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How Does An Animal Get on the Endangered Species List?

Updated on May 1, 2011

The Dodo Bird...

is often used as the classic example of extinction
is often used as the classic example of extinction | Source

How the Endangered Species List Works

An animal is considered endangered if it is at risk of disappearing from the Earth forever, according the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). When the species disappears it is extinct and will never come back. It is up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if a species is endangered. Several different factors are the cause of animals becoming endangered.

The Review Process:

A Review Process is done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to determine if an animal will be classified as endangered. The process begins when any member of society sends a petition to the Service. The petition requests the Service to determine if there is sufficient evidence about the species being on the border of extinction. If there is enough evidence to support a petitioner's claim, the species will be classified as endangered.

The Listing:

In order for a species to be listed as endangered, the FWS makes an announcement of the proposal in a U.S. government publication known as the "Federal Register." The public has a set period of time to agree or disagree with the proposal. The FWS then makes a decision on whether the proposal is to be approved, revised or withdrawn.


It is not unusual for a species on the endangered species list to become delisted and reclassified. This can occur when it is determined that the species has recovered sufficiently and is no longer in need of protection by the Endangered Species Act.

Protection of Animals at Risk:

Protection of animals at risk is provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 which prohibits the harming or killing of the protected animals and bars removing the animals from its habitat. As long as a species remains on the endangered species list is is afforded certain protections. Protective measures include a restriction on hunting, buying and selling of the species, and a recovery plan outlining steps to be taken in order for the species to recover and be moved from the List. Additionally, local laws in different states offer protection as well.

Threats/Cause and Effect:

There are a number of threats to animals that are the causes of being listed as endangered -

- Habitat destruction. This is done when homes are built, and land and trees are destroyed with no regard to animals dependent on the land for survival. This often pushes animals from endangered to extinction.

- Paving roads to divide the wilderness limits roaming space for animals to seek food and find mates. Animals are constantly pushed back with less and less space.

- Destroying wetlands eliminates wildlife sanctuaries for hundred of species. According to the ASPCA, approximately half the animals listed as endangered or threatened depend on wetlands for survival. Wetlands are often filled in and homes built.

- Introducing foreign (invasive) species into an environment endangers native animals.*

- Over-harvesting. For example, taking too much life from the oceans causes overexploitation. Fish cannot reproduce quickly enough and their numbers are disappearing.

- Pollution

The Sixth Mass Extinction - has begun, according to the Endangered Species International organization. Animals are disappearing at a rate that is possibly 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than any other extinction rate in history - meaning about 10 to 25 species per year are disappearing - due to human destruction. Because there is no list of all the species on Earth, many more may be endangered or have already become extinct.

*Note: Consider planting only native species to provide homes for native animals and insects. See suggestions below:


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    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 5 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome khmazz! You've inspired me to continue writing on this topic. Lately I've been writing about the invasive plants we keep planting which are taking over the land and not providing food for native animals.

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 5 years ago from South Florida

      I really enjoyed this hub! It is a topic that needs to be discussed more because we, as a society, need to start doing our part on a larger scale to help prevent extinction! Wonderful information! Thanks for sharing!

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Thank you anglnwu. We've made our lives unnecessarily difficult by not respecting nature. It seems we have lost. Thanks for writing.

      Thanks mysterywords.

      gigi, I've read that it is a jumping desert mouse that is on the endangered list, but otherwise I am not familiar with it.

    • profile image

      gigi 6 years ago

      hello. can you tell me information about the four toed jerboa?

    • profile image

      mysterywords 6 years ago

      Good stuff.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Thanks for shining light on this issue. It's sad to see species eradicated due to the factors you mentioned. I love your suggestion of planting native species to provide for native animals and insects. Rated up.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      This just freaks me out - that we can possibly think that the way we live is the right way. All it does is destroy everything - including our health and make a few people very rich. We are so far removed from a healthy environment - that we are actually fighting now for lower gas prices rather than reducing driving - which is more beneficial to the environment. We give no thought at all to what we buy, eat, throw out etc. Well, the wild weather is doing its job of culling people.

      Great informative hub - thanks and thanks for the native trees list. Another point worth considering - planting native species - easier to grow and the other animals benefit.

      Rated up!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      It's so sad that any animals ever have to end up on this list....especially when the root of the problem is due to the human population. So disgraceful that their homes are being destroyed and food sources are being eliminated when they were there first. Great hub on a very important topic! Rated up!