North American Animals Threatened with Extinction

North American animals threatened with extinction

Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. If you buy an item via links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

As wildlife populations dwindle, North America’s once-abundant biodiversity faces an alarming risk, with a staggering 40% of species now teetering on the edge of extinction.

This urgent situation demands immediate action, as we strive to raise awareness and implement crucial measures to protect these vulnerable animals. Join us in the crucial mission to safeguard North American wildlife from the brink of oblivion.

Endangered & Threatened Animals in North America

Animals all over North America face a variety of threats, such as habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change, to name a few. From birds to reptiles and mammals to insects, sadly no creature is safe from these threats.

1. Red Wolf (Canis rufus)

One of the most serious threats to the red wolf is interbreeding with coyotes.

The red wolf is a species of canine that is found in the southeastern parts of the United States, although historically, they were once found in the central parts of the southern United States. The natural habitat of the red wolf would have once included forests and mountainous areas. However, because of habitat reduction, they now exist primarily in areas of lowland mountains and swamps where they have been introduced.

Red wolves are smaller than gray wolves and can also be distinguished by their longer legs and short fur. During winter, their coats have a more reddish hue, but they molt in summer revealing a coat that can be marked with gray, white, tawny spots, and black.


One of the most serious threats to the red wolf is interbreeding with coyotes. Since their numbers are limited, red wolves are often forced to breed, creating hybrids which affects the gene pool of the species.

What’s more, these beautiful canines are being threatened by habitat loss which is caused by several factors. For example, climate change is causing sea levels to rise which results in flooding of their natural environment. Moreover, human developments such as agriculture and new roads are encroaching on the natural habitat of the red wolf.

Where roads are concerned, red wolves are often the victims of traffic accidents around the Albemarle Peninsula. As a result of all these threats, the red wolf is now considered to be critically endangered.

Conservation Efforts

In some areas, coyotes are being sterilized as a means of preventing them from successfully breeding with red wolves.

In the wake of farmers nearly decimating the red wolf population due to accusations of livestock predation, conservationists have undertaken captive breeding programs to preserve these animals. Initially, 14 red wolves were captured, serving as the cornerstone for the reintroduced population we see today in the wild.

Where roads run through red wolf territory, local authorities have put up additional signs warning drivers of the risks of hitting one. Moreover, educational programs are in place to teach people about the declining numbers and how to avoid colliding with a red wolf while driving.

2. Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

The leatherback sea turtle unfortunately faces a whole host of threats which has led it to earn its critically endangered status.

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest species of turtle on the planet and can grow up to an impressive 1100 lbs (499 kg) as an adult. These stunning creatures are found all over the world in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. In North America, they’re common from the southern tropical regions all the way up to Alaska.

This is a migratory species that will make a grueling journey of up to 10,000 miles (16,093 km) when it’s time to breed. Not only are they determined when it comes to heading to their breeding grounds, but these turtles will also dive up to 4000 feet (1,219 meters) under the surface in search of food.


The leatherback sea turtle unfortunately faces a whole host of threats which has led it to earn its critically endangered status. In the last decade alone, it’s thought that these turtles’ numbers have declined by as much as 80%.

One of the main threats is that the leatherback sea turtle ends up a bycatch by fishermen, especially in the ropes of lobster pots. Fortunately, unlike some turtle species, it’s rare that the leatherback is fished for its meat as it is considered unpalatable. However, it’s not uncommon for humans to harvest their eggs.

Another threat to these turtles is light pollution. Since they come to the beach to lay their eggs, any artificial light can disorientate both the mothers and hatchlings as they head back to sea. What’s more, with more human developments along the coast, nesting habitat is being quickly lost.

Conservation Efforts

In an effort to save the leatherback sea turtle, nature reserves have been set up along the coast to provide the turtles with a safe place to nest without the risk of their eggs being harvested by humans.

Organizations such as NOAA Fisheries are working with North American authorities to ensure that all protection laws are complied with both on a state and national level. One such law was enacted in 2004, the Marine Turtle Conservation Act, which aims to protect sea turtle species both in the United States and by providing support to other nations. 

Additionally, these same organizations are putting money into research for things like safer fishing gear. In some areas, governments are insisting that any fishing gear used in leatherback habitats be fitted with turtle exclusion devices.

3. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Like all species of sea turtle, the loggerhead is in serious decline.

The loggerhead is another species of sea turtle found in North America as far north as Newfoundland although there are populations on a global scale, mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. However, in North America, the most popular nesting grounds are found in the Caribbean.

These turtles take their names from the fact that they have incredibly large heads. They’re also a good sized animal overall, with adults growing to around 400 lbs (181 kg), on average. They are carnivores that have incredibly strong jaws designed to crush their prey.

Just like other sea turtle species, the loggerhead returns to the beach where it was born to lay its eggs. However, for the first seven to fifteen years of its life, the young loggerhead turtle will remain out in the open ocean.


Like all species of sea turtle, the loggerhead is in serious decline. There are several reasons for this, but one of the main is that these turtles end up getting tangled in fishing gear, unable to free themselves.

What’s more, with coastal development taking place, much of the loggerhead sea turtle’s nesting habitat is being lost. Even where there is still plenty of nesting space along the beaches, human developments attract predators such as raccoons that prey on the turtle eggs. Moreover, in some areas, loggerhead turtles and their eggs are hunted for human food.

Conservation Efforts

While the loggerhead sea turtle is the least threatened of all the sea turtle species, it is still at risk, and there have been several conservation efforts put in place to save them. For example, in North America, it is now required that all commercial fishing nets are fitted with Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs). Moreover, countries that still use outdated fishing methods that put loggerheads at risk have been penalized by a trade ban on their catch with the USA.

There are organizations that have been set up purely to protect the loggerhead turtle such as the Caretta Research Project. This program aims to research the species and find ways to reduce the threats to them and their eggs as well as provide education to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the species.

4. California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

While the California condor is critically endangered, any individual may live for as long as 60 years in the wild.

The California condor is a species of New World vulture found in the central southern part of California. However, before its decline, it was found all along the North American Pacific coastline. They prefer a desert habitat with cliffs for nesting.

California condors are large birds that can grow up to 55 inches (140 cm) and weigh as much as 31 lbs (14 kg). Their wingspan can measure as much as 9.5 feet (2.9 meters), and these are considered to be the largest native land birds in North America.

While the species is critically endangered, any individual may live for as long as 60 years in the wild. They do not reach sexual maturity until the ages of between six and eight.


The decline of the California condor is a serious one and back in the 70s, as few as 25 individuals remained in the wild. There has been some success in reintroducing them, but numbers remain incredibly low.

One of the main threats to these birds is habitat loss. Another threat began as settlers began to move into the west and would take the condor eggs for food.

The condor is also at risk of poisoning from pollutants; most notably DDT which are known for their ability to interfere with the developing condor embryo. Moreover, the game populations in the wild have dwindled, making it more difficult for these birds to find food and when they do, the carcasses are often contaminated with bullet fragments which cause lead poisoning in the bird.

Conservation Efforts

Worryingly, there are only a few hundred California condors left in the wild, so conservation efforts have been stepped up. For example the California Condor Recovery Program which is currently breeding the species in several captive locations around the world. The final hope is that as many as 150 breeding pairs will be released into the wild to reestablish two populations.

There have been previous success with releasing condors back into the wild. After being absent from the landscape for more than 14 years, the Yurok Tribe has successfully released new individuals into the wild. 

Laws have been put in place to protect the California condor, including one that has been enforced for more than a century making it illegal to kill one of these birds.

5. Black-Footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)

The black-footed ferret is the rarest mammal in North America and this is largely because of a lack of food.

Also known as the American polecat, the black-footed ferret is a mustelid species that was once thought to be extinct in the wild. However, in 2008, it was relisted as endangered, and it’s thought that there are only 206 left in the wild. 

The black-footed ferret can be found only in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, although their historic range was across all of North America. They live in grasslands and hills where they make use of abandoned prairie dog burrows on which they also feed.

An individual black-footed ferret can live up to 12 years, but this is based on them being in captivity. They are a similar size to a mink with a slender body and black markings on the face, tail, and feet.


The black-footed ferret is the rarest mammal in North America and this is largely because of a lack of food. More than 90% of the species’ diet is made up of prairie dogs, but these have been largely wiped out in the wild. Farmers would poison the prairie dogs because of their destructive behavior, and without food, the black-footed ferret population died out.

What’s more, the sylvatic plague was partially responsible for the decline in the black-footed ferret, which was detected back in 2004. After this, where there was once a 100 million acre (404.69 billion square meter) ferret habitat, there now remains just 2 million acres (8.09 billion square meters).

Conservation Efforts

It’s vital that we act quickly to save the black-footed ferret as numbers have declined to a worrying level. Considered to be a flagship species, organizations have been focusing on protecting the habitat of the black-footed ferret and conserving their food sources.

Over the years, there have also been efforts to breed the black-footed ferret in captivity and release them into the wild. This has seen their numbers rise from presumed extinct to a couple of hundred. However, these breeding efforts need to continue if we are to re-establish an adequate population.

6. Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

In the wild, the Florida manatee has been hunted for many years by humans for their meat, skin, and bones.

Native to the waters of the Caribbean, the Florida manatee is a species of aquatic mammal that can also be found in estuaries and canals. This is down to their ability to be able to switch between salinity levels without any harm.

Generally speaking, the Florida manatee, also known as the West Indian manatee, grows to around 9.8 feet (3 meters) in length, although some individuals may get much larger than this. Females are normally larger than males and can weigh up to 1,320 lbs (598 kg).


Listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, there are a few key threats to the survival of the Florida manatee. In the wild, these creatures don’t have any predators but have been hunted for many years by humans for their meat, skin, and bones. While they are not commercially fished, both Native Americans and European settlers have hunted them. Moreover, they’re often victims of bycatch and are frequently caught in fishing nets. 

Another threat to the species is collisions with motorboats which equates to as many as 20% of all mortalities each year. Industrial runoff is also an issue. In fact, researchers have found several toxins from human activity in the tissues of deceased specimens.

It has also been reported that the food sources for the Florida manatee are in decline, and they’ve been seen to be eating algae where seagrass is not available.

Conservation Efforts

In order to save the species from extinction, several acts have been passed to protect the Florida manatee, including protection under the Endangered Species Act, as well as the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Moreover, humans have been aware of the threat to the manatee for many years and as such, an act was passed in 1983 making it illegal to kill one of these marine mammals. However, illegal poaching still takes place so it’s essential that we raise awareness and educate people about the importance of the species.

7. Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

One of the main threats to the greater sage grouse is human development which has caused significant habitat loss.

The greater sage grouse can be found in habitats where there is a lot of sagebrush. They use this for various things, including leks, nesting, raising their young, food, and overwintering. While their range is all over North America, they’re more common in Alberta and Saskatchewan, although they’re found as far south as Nevada.

The males have a white chest and various markings on the head and neck, but the females are mostly brown, allowing them to camouflage in with their surroundings when nesting. These are not particularly large birds, with males usually growing to around 30 inches (76 cm); females are slightly smaller.

One of the things that the greater sage grouse is well known for is its impressive mating ritual. These birds put on magnificent displays in order to attract a mate and gather in a lek to perform a strutting dance.


One of the main threats to the greater sage grouse is human development which has caused significant habitat loss. Over the years, energy development and building have caused the population to decline from more than 16 million to an estimated half a million in just one century!

What’s more, it has been shown that the greater sage grouse may be sensitive to climate change and that drought conditions may affect their ability to successfully nest.

Conservation Efforts

In Canada, there currently aren’t many plans in place to help protect the greater sage grouse. However, in North America, back in 2015, conservation plans were put into place although these were revoked under the Trump administration in 2019. That said, things are now looking up as these plans are set to be reinstated in an effort to help suffering populations.

8. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

In much of its range, the piping plover is listed as endangered, but it is listed as threatened in the Great Lakes area.

The piping plover is a shorebird that is native to the beaches of North America, mainly along the Atlantic coast. They are found as far north as Canada and in some instances can be found around the British Caribbean islands.

These are small birds which don’t typically grow much larger than 6.7 inches (17 cm) and are characterized by the black band that runs across the head and breast, although this is a trait only seen in males. You’ll also recognize them because of their gait; they are typically seen running in short spurts and quickly coming to a stop.


In much of its range, the piping plover is listed as endangered, but it is listed as threatened in the Great Lakes area. One of the reasons for its decline was due to its capture for fashion; the feathers were used in the 19th and 20th century to decorate hats for women in high society.

Habitat loss is another cause of the decline in this species, and this comes as a direct result of human development along their coastal habitats.

Conservation Efforts

There are several groups and organizations that are working to protect the piping plover. One of the main efforts here is protecting the critical nesting sites of the piping plover, which have been in serious decline since the end of World War II when human development really began to boom. 

Educating people on the threats to the species is also important, and there are various organizations providing free information for the public. 

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 helped to increase wild numbers after their decline in the 19th and 20th century. This act forbids anyone to cause harm to or kill any native North American migratory bird and the piping plover is included in this.

9. Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi)

With an estimated 20 to 50 individuals left in the wild, the Florida panther is severely at risk of becoming extinct.

The Florida panther can be found in the southeastern parts of the United States, with its range mainly being in Florida, as the name suggests. They prefer either a mixed swamp forest or a hammock forest with lots of vegetation to provide them with cover.

Males tend to be larger than females and may weigh up to 148 lbs (67 kg), while females might weigh as much as 99 lbs (45 kg). These are short-haired animals with a distinct whorl of hair in the middle of their backs, which is a key identifying feature.

Breeding season begins in October and ends in March, and the females may carry a litter of up to three kittens; she remains pregnant for 95 days.


With an estimated 20 to 50 individuals left in the wild, the Florida panther is severely at risk of becoming extinct. There are several threats that have caused this species of north American wild cat to decline with vehicle collisions being a major threat. These animals are great swimmers and will cross waterways with ease but they’ll just as easily walk out onto a highway where they sadly become just another statistic.

Habitat loss and fragmentation is another serious threat to the survival of this species, and they are limited to very small areas in the Everglades National Park and the Cypress Nature Reserve.

Florida panthers are susceptible to a number of diseases with lentivirus and feline immunodeficiency virus being two of the main ones. What’s more, the chemicals and pollutants found in the environment are causing feminization in males, making them much less likely to reproduce, therefore depleting numbers. There is also very little genetic diversity among the remaining individuals in the wild.

Conservation Efforts

In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities as a result of vehicle collisions, measures such as reduced speed areas and headlight reflector strips have been put into place.

Organizations are working to protect the natural habitat of the Florida panther and there are now several protected areas that have aided a significant increase in the numbers since the project began. 

What’s more, the species is protected under the Endangered Species Act, and the Florida Panther Recovery Plan has been put in place with the hopes of changing their status from endangered to threatened. Eventually, the hope is that the populations will increase enough that the survival of the species is no longer a concern.

10. Lesser Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

The lesser prairie chicken lives in grasslands and prairies, but it is thought that as much as 90% of its historical habitat has been lost.

The lesser prairie chicken is a short, rotund ground bird that grows to around 16 inches (41 cm). These birds form leks during mating season and perform impressive rituals to obtain a mate.

Lesser prairie chickens are mainly found in Kansas and currently, more than 50% of the existing population is located here. However, there are also some in Oklahoma and Texas. Because of this limited range, the lesser prairie chicken is considered to be vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.


The lesser prairie chicken lives in grasslands and prairies, but it is thought that as much as 90% of its historical habitat has been lost. Numbers have declined as a direct result of this habitat loss.

In some parts of the lesser prairie chicken’s range, sport hunting is still legal, and these birds become the targets for this.

Conservation Efforts

State management programs are one of the main ways that the lesser prairie chicken is being protected. As a result of this, the populations in Kansas are pretty stable, however, in other areas, more work needs to be done as numbers are still in decline.

While sport hunting is legal in some parts of the lesser prairie chicken’s range, most notably Kansas, it has been made illegal in many areas.

The USFWS has been working with landowners in an attempt to conserve what’s left of the lesser prairie chicken’s habitat. With this, more than 900 landowners have helped to save up to 1.6 million acres (6.48 billion square meters) of habitat.

11. Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

It’s thought that there could be as few as 2,500 Florida scrub jays left in the wild, and one of the main threats to this species is habitat loss.

The Florida scrub jay is the only endemic bird in Florida and is thought to have inhabited the area for more than 2 million years. They prefer areas of low-growing scrub, no more than 6.5 feet (1.98 meters), where they will hunt for insects and forage for other foods like berries and acorns.

These are pretty smart birds that will forage for food and hammer holes in the soil where they will hide their stash. In order to locate it again in future, they will place a marker such as a twig or leaf on the area.

During the breeding season, the male and female will work together, collecting twigs and fibers to make a nest. The female will lay a clutch of up to six eggs which will incubate for up to 21 days.


The Florida scrub jay is listed as vulnerable, and its numbers continue to decline. It’s thought that there could be as few as 2,500 left in the wild, and one of the main threats to this species is habitat loss. Wildfires are largely to blame as when they start, the scrub jays leave the area of oak scrub and discontinue using it. 

On top of this, the Florida scrub jay is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Human feeding is also an issue as, while it may be well-intentioned, these foods can be detrimental to the health of the birds. What’s more, when humans feed scrub jays, they often attract them near roads, which can result in collisions.

While there doesn’t seem to be any reproductive problems for the species, it has been noted that nest predation is a significant threat. Snakes appear to be the main predators of scrub jay eggs.

Conservation Efforts

One of the ways that conservation groups have tried to reinstate the habitat of the Florida scrub jay is through controlled burning as well as clearing areas of trees to make new scrub habitats. There are also some areas that have been left in a natural state, allowing wildfires to burn and create new scrubland.

The Nature Conservancy has provided funding to acquire 25 acres (101,171 square meters) of land which will form part of a larger wildlife corridor allowing for more freedom between habitats for scrub jays.

In addition to this, there is a campaign going on insisting that the scrub jay be named the new state bird of Florida in an attempt to raise awareness that this is a native bird to the state, whereas the current state bird is not.

12. Mississippi Gopher Frog (Lithobates sevosus)

Because of various factors, including human development, fires, and logging, much of the gopher frog’s (Lithobates sevosus) habitat has been lost, and this has been one of the main causes of its decline.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

The Mississippi gopher frog is a small frog that grows to around 3 inches (7.6 cm) and can be identified by the brown spots and warts along its back. Adults can range in color from gray to brown or black and will prey on a variety of insects, spiders, and even other frogs.

Once found all along the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Mississippi gopher frog now has a much more limited range. They’re found only in two small populations in Glen’s Pond, Harrison’s County, and it’s thought that there may only be 100 left in the wild.


Because of various factors, including human development, fires, and logging, much of the gopher frog’s habitat has been lost, and this has been one of the main causes of its decline. As a direct result of the lowered numbers, genetic diversity has also decreased, making it even harder for the current populations to survive due to a new susceptibility to disease.

Climate change has also affected the gopher frog, which struggles to get through periods of prolonged drought. Moreover, pollutants in the natural environment that have come from human development, agriculture, and other places have caused further decline.

Conservation Efforts

Efforts are being made to protect the Mississippi gopher frog, but unfortunately, the species is fighting a losing battle. It was proposed that a 1500-acre (6.07 million square meters) area be protected to save these frogs, but during a court hearing, the idea was dismissed.

That said, there are other successful efforts including those by the Gopher Frog Recovery Team, which is working to improve the natural habitat by providing frogs with more ponds. The program is also focusing on captive breeding to increase numbers.

The USFW is also spending time researching and monitoring the species in the wild and has also developed a viable captive breeding program.

13. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)

The main cause of the decline in populations of the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is habitat loss.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was once abundant in the southeastern parts of the United States. But today, it could be extinct and is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. For many years, they were thought to be extinct, but in 2004, they were spotted in Arkansas, although it’s thought that as few as 49 individuals are left.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers are the largest species of woodpecker in the US, and the males are usually slightly larger than the females. They have a wingspan of around 31 inches (78 cm) and beautiful glossy black feathers with white markings.

These birds live in forest habitats with a lot of tall trees and prefer areas where there are lots of dead or decaying trees which are easier for them to excavate. When doing this, they are able to forage for food, and the main part of their diet consists of beetles and larvae.


As with many other species, the main cause of the decline in populations of the ivory-billed woodpecker is habitat loss. In this case, logging is primarily to blame and has caused the destruction of their forest habitat.

These effects were evident at the beginning of the 20th century when logging became more common, and by the 1930s, it was presumed that the birds were all but extinct.

The birds were also once abundant in Cuba, but over time, areas of forest were cleared to make way for sugar plantations, further decreasing the habitat of this species.

Conservation Efforts

The current status of the ivory-billed woodpecker is under review. In 2021, it was proposed by the US government that the species should be listed as extinct, but this was met with some resistance as there were conservationists that believed some individuals remained in the wild. 

It’s hoped that if the bird is properly rediscovered, conservation programs will be created to protect it in the future.

14. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)

The longleaf pine trees that the red-cockaded woodpecker calls home are often cut down by logging companies which means that much of the species’ natural habitat is being lost.

Found in the southeastern parts of the United States, the red-cockaded woodpecker is a beautiful bird with black plumage and white markings all over the body. These are medium-sized birds that can grow up to 9 inches (23 cm) and may have a wingspan of up to 16 inches (41 cm).

You’re most likely to find the red-cockaded woodpecker in longleaf pine forests, although today, it’s thought that only around 1.2 million hectares of habitat remains for these birds. Moreover, the trees within their habitat must be old for the birds to successfully make cavities within them.

This is an omnivorous species that tend to feed on insects, spiders, and worms but will also include many fruits and berries in its diet.


The longleaf pine trees that the red-cockaded woodpecker calls home are often cut down by logging companies which means that much of the species’ natural habitat is being lost. What’s more, the trees that are harvested are being cut down long before they’re mature enough for the birds.

Not only does this reduce habitat, but it also creates fragmentation, making the habitable areas much smaller, and it becomes more of a challenge for individuals to find a mate.

On top of this, the red-cockaded woodpecker is competing with other species of woodpecker for resources in these small fragments of habitat.

Conservation Efforts

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed, but even before this, the red-cockaded woodpecker was being looked at by conservationists. One of the main ways that they’re being helped is through habitat management, ensuring that there is sufficient nesting space for these birds.

What’s more, controlled wildfires are being used as a way to create habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker as well as many other species. This controlled burning, along with pine thinning, has shown to be effective in increasing populations.

There is also a recovery plan in place for this species which was established back in 1979 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

15. Utah Prairie Dog (Cynomys parvidens)

One of the main threats to the Utah prairie dog is poisoning by humans.

The Utah prairie dog, as its name suggests, is found in the southern parts of Utah with three known main colonies. These creatures have very particular needs when it comes to habitat; the soil needs to be well drained, and there needs to be a good amount of low vegetation, which provides cover but also allows the prairie dogs to scan for predators.

Utah prairie dogs grow to between 12 inches (30 cm) and 14 inches (36 cm) and have multi-toned fur in shades of black and brown. They’re an endangered species, according to the IUCN Red List, and are mainly herbivorous. That said, they will feed on insects when they need to.

While they are under threat, it’s important that we pay attention to their needs, as Utah prairie dogs are considered to be a keystone species.


One of the main threats to the Utah prairie dog is poisoning by humans. Seen as a pest, they were targeted for many years, but they’re now protected, making it illegal to kill them.

Despite this, threats still remain, and habitat loss is a leading cause of their decline. This is mainly due to human development and agriculture. Disease is also an issue, as well as things like drought as a result of climate change.

Conservation Efforts

The Utah prairie dog is protected under the Endangered Species Act, and this has helped the wild populations to grow. However, their range is still nothing like it used to be, and it’s thought that they now only occupy around 15% of their previous habitat. However, it’s also worth remembering that there is a clause from the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowing as many as 6,000 Utah prairie dogs to be shot every year. Since their population at its lowest was less than 3,300 it’s not hard to see why this could be a threat.

The good news is that there is a recovery program for the species which aims to move them into habitats that are out of the way of humans. There are also organizations working to protect the species through advocacy. 

Landowners are being supported to make their land as habitable as possible for the prairie dog, and there are even compensation programs for farm owners who are willing to designate a portion of their land as prairie dog habitat.

16. Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

One of the main issues facing the gopher tortoise is habitat loss or the degradation of their habitat.

Native to the southeastern United States, the gopher tortoise prefers habitats with light tree cover and dry, sandy soil. This burrowing terrestrial species can be found along the Coastal Plain from Louisiana to South Carolina.

Gopher tortoises don’t grow much larger than 15 inches (38 cm) in length and have a mainly black or dark brown coloration. There isn’t any significant difference between the male and the female in terms of size, and their overall appearance is generally the same apart from the female having a flatter plastron and the male having larger glands on the chin.

While a lot isn’t known about their breeding habits, it has been observed that the males will perform a courtship dance that includes head bobbing and walking in circles.


As with many other species, one of the main issues facing the gopher tortoise is habitat loss or the degradation of their habitat. Fragmentation is also an issue and this is largely caused by things like agriculture and human development as well as phosphate mining.

As well as this, many incidents of gopher tortoises being involved in vehicle collisions are being reported and these often end with the animal becoming a fatality.

Other threats include pollutants and toxins in the environment as a result of human activity as well as disease and predation.

Conservation Efforts

Despite considerable evidence to suggest that the habitat of the gopher tortoise is in decline, increased protection has been denied at a federal level. However, there are many state efforts, including those in Alabama which are aiming to increase the number of wild gopher tortoises by releasing captive bred individuals.

While some efforts to preserve the longleaf pine habitats of the gopher tortoise have been made, it’s obvious that further work is required before we see a significant difference.

In an effort to reduce the number of vehicle collision fatalities in gopher turtles, local authorities have put up chain link fences along major roads. Signs have also been put up along the roads to warn drivers about the risk of hitting one of these animals.

17. Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)

The Devil’s hole pupfish is prone to disturbance, and there have been incidents where the water level has lowered as a result of groundwater depletion.
USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation / Flickr / Public Domain

The range of the Devil’s Hole pupfish is incredibly limited, and they can only be found in the Devil’s Hole, Nevada in the Death Valley National Park. The water is split into two sections, with more than half of the population residing on a limestone shelf that allows plenty of sunlight to filter through.

One of the most interesting things about these fish is their diet; they’re anything but fussy and will eat almost every food available in Devil’s Hole, including insects, crustaceans, algae, and much more.

The males have a bright blue metallic coloration, whereas the females have a more yellowish hue. These are very small fish that do not grow much larger than 0.8 inches (2 cm).


The most obvious threat to the pupfish is its incredibly limited range. Not only this, but the Devil’s Hole is prone to disturbance, and there have been incidents where the water level has lowered as a result of groundwater depletion. During these times, the pupfish are limited in their breeding space, which has a direct impact on their numbers.

On top of this, natural disasters such as earthquakes can cause waves in the water at Devil’s Hole, which prompt spawning out of season when there aren’t the resources to sustain young. In addition, climate change will impact the water, meaning that optimal breeding cannot take place.

Human interaction with the fish could also put them at risk, and there was one incident where a group of men entered the protected area, destroying equipment and contaminating the water with vomit.

Conservation Efforts

In 1952, Devil’s Hole was made a part of the Death Valley National Monument which earned it a protected status. What’s more, since the pupfish was listed as an endangered species, it benefits from protection from the Endangered Species Act.

An area known as Ash Meadows, near Devil’s Hole, was once a location that stood to see significant human development. However, the land was then acquired by The Nature Conservancy and was instead turned into a nature reserve.

Scientists continue to monitor the Devil’s Hole and measure the water level in an effort to spot problems before they become critical.

18. Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

The primary reason for the endangered status of the Indiana bat is habitat loss and degradation.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Indiana bat is a small bat species that grows to around 3 inches (8 cm) and doesn’t weigh more than 0.2 oz (7 g) as an adult. They have dark brown to gray coloration and have a projecting piece of cartilage on the foot that helps to distinguish them from other similar species.

Indiana bats are native to North America and, despite their name, are found in New York, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina, among other places. For the most part, these bats can be found in limestone caves, where they will spend the winter months hibernating.

Just before hibernation, its breeding season and the males will mate with several females during this time. The females will then store the sperm over the course of their hibernation before getting pregnant when they awaken in spring.


The primary reason for the endangered status of the Indiana bat is habitat loss and degradation. Much of this is to do with deforestation; the bats make use of a forest habitat during the summer. But there are other factors at play.

White-nose syndrome is a disease that primarily affects bats, and this fungal infection can cause bats to emerge prematurely from hibernation.

Sadly there is currently no known cure for white-nose syndrome, but it is having a profound effect on populations, with some instances resulting in a 90% fatality rate. Wind turbines are also responsible for hundreds of bat deaths as the animals will collide with them simply because they are unable to see the blades.

Conservation Efforts

Since the habitat of the Indiana bat is so threatened, it is now required that any company planning to make developments in an area must first assess for roosting bats. If any are found then the development must cater to the needs of the bats and accommodate them within their plans.

Moreover, since the caves where Indiana bats are found are often used by humans for recreational caving, many areas have now been shut off to the public to preserve and protect the bats.

There are also several organizations working to protect the Indiana bat, including the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund, which is focusing on monitoring bats in the wild through a variety of studies.

In efforts to prevent bat fatalities from wind turbine collisions, one wind farm in Missouri has pledged to turn off its equipment at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

Similar Posts