Animal Idioms

Animal Cell

While the most recent environmental tragedy is of enormous scope and impact, it draws attention to the hundreds if not thousands of smaller incidents in which water pollution negatively affects wildlife and the ramifications of mankind's apathy and folly in failing to preserve nature. The sad fact is that many of nature's gifts cannot be repaired once damaged, and the affect of water pollution upon wildlife is often permanent and irreversible despite extensive efforts. In the most basic overview, water pollution affects the creatures that reside in the water - fish and amphibians are are most frequently and strongly impacted as they rely on clean water for their very existence. Low oxygen levels in the polluted water make it difficult or impossible for these creatures to breathe and as a result of the pollution they simply perish from suffocation. The ecosystem upon which wildlife depends for sustenance is destroyed by pollutants, and in some instances entire species are eliminated from a specific location as a result of the pollutants in the water. Even for those species that do survive, the overall population of wildlife is generally reduced and weakened, often with reproductive cycles becoming less frequent and less productive. Water pollution affects wildlife on land by means of a domino-effect, in which not a living creature is not impacted in one manner or another. The availability of clean drinking water for animals from a formerly reliable source is eliminated by pollution, as is the aquatic wildlife that once served as an important link on the food chain for land animals. The once natural balance in population and general health of all wildlife is altered beyond repair, as one species nearly becomes extinct while another grows in numbers that cannot be supported in the long-term by available natural resources. Lastly, water pollution not only affects the wildlife at the location of the pollutants presence but with the earth's natural heating and cooling the pollution is spread to distant locations globally through acid rain. Unfortunately, the affects of water pollution on wildlife that is delivered so discretely and without obvious notice often results in damage to existing ecosystems that may not be assessed for decades.


Missouri had 468 aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species classified as wildlife species of greatest conservation need (GCN). Of these 468 GCN 28 are mussels, 21 are snails, 17 are crayfish, 31 are crustaceans, 90 are insects, 68 are fish, 16 are amphibians, 18 are reptiles, 50 are birds and 25 are mammals. Problems or threats to the GCN species populations in Missouri are commercial and industrial development, landfill construction or operation, dams, road construction, urban development, water diversion, municipal and industrial point source, commercial harvest, conversion of riparian forests, excessive non-commercial harvest or collection, channel maintenance and confined animal operations. Other problems or threats to GCN species are crop production practices, excessive groundwater withdrawal, fire suppression, management of or for certain species, channel alteration, exotic species, parasites, pathogens, recreation, grazing, predation, forestry activities and resource extraction. The Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy has addressed these problems or threats to the GCN species population with conservation actions. These actions include decreasing the data gap by gathering more information on GCN species, by fire management with controlled burned, with habitat protection by initiating projects to protect existing habitat or habitat components, with habitat restoration and improvement by initiating projects to restore or enhance existing habitats, with land acquisition by purchasing land or conservation easement that is important to GCN species, with population management by directly manipulating GCN species population by restocking, translocation an harvest management, with public relations and education by increasing public awareness of GCN species and key habitats through education and public outreach, with threat abatement by mitigating existing threats including pollution, predation an competing species and with other conservation action plans that have not been covered previously.