De-Extinction Counter

At the Field Museum where I work, we have a big counter at the end of our Evolving Planet exhibit. It looks like this:


While true, sobering, and essential to recognize, I also find this display to be incredibly DEPRESSING. Which – I worry – can actually lead to stymying action to preserve and protect the species we still got! So I’d like to make my own counter, starting with my home.

Below is a partial list of the efforts to bring back and recognize the native species of Chicagoland, either by reintroduction, discovery of new populations, or just the biota realizing the coast is clear enough for them to move back in. While this is technically de-extirpation, that’s less attention grabby than “DE-EXTINCTION” although we are not bringing back the wooly rhinoceros… Yet.

I will update this list every time a new story emerges. Let’s fight the 6th Mass Extinction event with our urgent hope!

Smooth Green Snake, Meadow Jumping Mice, Least Weasel
Leafy Prairie Clover
Blanding’s Turtle
Pitcher’s Thistle
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Ornate Box Turtle
Aligator Gar

Moving Back:
Piping Plover
River Otter
Black Bear
Slag Sedges (2 species)
Black Crowned Night Herons
Sandhill Cranes
Bald Eagle
Clay-colored Sparrow
Bobcats, Armadillos, Mountain Lions
Peregrine Falcons
Black-Necked Stilts
Trumpeter Swans in Cook County (needs link!)

Not Actually Lost Yet:
Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly (only federally endangered dragonfly)
Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid
Kankakee Mallow

Do you have a suggestion for a Chicagoland de-extinction? Send it to with the link to article about it.

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Robb Q. Telfer

Advisory Group Member at Habitat 2030
Robb Telfer is a professional performance poet and organizes volunteers for habitat restoration with The Field Museum in Chicago. He serves on the Advisory Group for Habitat 2030 and helps moderate the Calumet Nature Nerds Facebook group here. He doesn't know how to science very good, but he's trying.

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2 Responses to “De-Extinction Counter”

  1. Tim Slott

    I would be interested in volunteering for habitat restoration and I can aid with the science thing!


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