Environment: Coming Back from the Brink

Alligators and leopards are no longer seen as endangered

To animal preservationists, leopard coats and alligator shoes have long ranked among the most flagrant symbols of human indifference to the fate of wild animals. Even among the general public, consciousness has been raised high enough so that anyone sporting finery made from the skins of endangered animals runs the risk of at least verbal assault.

The attackers may have to shift emotional gears, however. Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally announced that the American alligator is no longer an endangered species. And, at a meeting this week in Ottawa, the U.N.'s Convention on International Trade in Endangered...