Endangered Species

Endangered species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct either in a localized area or throughout the world. These animals are protected in the United States by the Endangered Species Act, which was passed in 1973. The Endangered Species Act is upheld by two federal agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries.

The Endangered Species Act has two classifications for species at risk:

  • endangered
  • threatened.

An endangered species has full protection of the act and in general may not be hunted or harvested by any means. A threatened species has dwindling numbers that put it on the verge of becoming endangered. Threatened species are watched and legal hunting and harvesting is limited.

Violation of the Endangered Species Act can result in heavy fines or jail time. The killing of an endangered animal is punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and one year in prison. Additionally, any person may file civil charges against an individual charged with violation of the act. Violations also include:

  • bothering, displacing or injuring endangered species
  • importing/exporting and transporting endangered species for financial gain
  • possessing endangered species without permit.

Here is a list of some of the most endangered animals in the United States and the world.

United States and Canada

  • American bald eagle Western North America. Bald eagle reproduction was threatened by the use of the pesticide DDT. The birds were also hunted for prize.
  • Atlantic salmon Northeast United States. Loss of habitation and over fishing have dwindled this population from 550,000 to 160 adults.
  • California condor Southwest United States. The pesticide DDT and loss of habitat limited to reproduction abilities and food supply for these birds.
  • greet turtle Southeast United States, The green turtle is threatened by commercial harvesting and egg poaching.
  • grey wolf Northern United States and Canada. The greatest threat is decline of habitation and loss of food supply due to expansion of developed territories.
  • grizzly bear Western North America. Grizzlies are experiencing a loss of habitat and food resources. They have also been over-hunted.
  • manatee Southeast United States and Gulf of Mexico. The only threat to the manatee is human. They are regularly killed by boat propellers and polluted waterways.
  • whooping crane Midwest United States. Dwindling habitat and commercial pesticides threaten the Whooping Crane.

The World

  • beluga sturgeon Caspian Sea. Poaching for the eggs that are harvested for caviar and its incredible demand has decimated the wild population of sturgeon.
  • black rhino Africa. The black rhino is hunted for its horns, which are ground into powder and sold on the black market.
  • giant panda China. Loss of natural habitat and poaching combined with an unusually difficult reproductions cycle has severely diminished the wild population of Panda.
  • green cheeked parrot Mexico. Green cheeked parrots are prized pet birds and although banned, are regularly smuggled throughout the world.
  • tiger Southeast Europe through Central Asia. Poaching for body parts and organs used in Chinese medicine and declining natural habitat.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2007). Endangered Species Program. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from the U.S. FWS Web site: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/wildlife.html.

ICUN Species Survival Commission (n.d.). Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from the ICUN SSC Web site: http://www.iucnredlist.org/.