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North America Animals Top 10 Endangered Species List

Updated on May 1, 2012

List Of Endangered Species In North America

Several organizations oversee various lists of species that are threatened with extinction, including The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and, in the United States, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

According to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the Secretary of the Interior is charged with adding or removing species of plants and animals to the list of endangered species. There are many factors that contribute to the listing of a species on the endangered species list. The Interior Department, through the Director of the Fish & Wildlife Service, determines whether a species is endangered based upon a number of factors, including habitat destruction, over-utilization, disease and other man-made or natural influences.

All of the animal species listed here are considered "Endangered" in North America by the USFWS. Several of the species are not endangered in other areas - for example, the jaguar is nearly extinct in the United States, but a healthy population still exists in the Amazon River basin in South America. Since the jaguar once had a significant population in the United States, it qualifies as "Endangered" in North America even though it is not considered so in other parts of the world.

Gray Wolf
Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf

Latin name:
Canis lupus

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Mexico; recovering in parts of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Once the world's most widely distributed mammal, the Gray Wolf is all but extinct in North America and is restricted to remote wilderness areas in Alaska, Canada and the northern United States. Controversy has surrounded wolves around the world for centuries, with some claiming that all wolves must be killed on sight because they threaten humans, pets and livestock. In many cases, the threat posed by wolves has been exaggerated almost to the point of myth, resulting in widespread intentional extermination of regional populations. Protection efforts have managed to restore some populations, most notably those native to Yellowstone National Park.

Public domain photo from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Black-footed ferret
Black-footed ferret

The Black-Footed Ferret, from National Geograhic

Black-Footed Ferret

Latin name:
Mustela nigripes

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered:
Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota ,Utah, Wyoming, Mexico

The black-footed ferret is a North American prairie-dweller. They feed mostly on prairie dogs, and the loss of that food source has contributed to the decline the the ferret population across it's native territory across the North American prairie.Other factors contributing to the decline in population are loss of habitat due to human encroachment and diseases like canine distemper and a bubonic plague-like disease. The species was at one time down to a population of less than 50 individuals. A small population was discovered in Wyoming in the 1980s, and since then the US Fish & Wildlife Service has been able to begin re-introducing captive-bred black-footed ferrets into their native habitats with some success.

Photo from / CC BY 2.0



Latin name:
Leopardus pardalis

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Arizona, Texas

Although still prevalent throughout Central and South America, the ocelot is nearly extinct in the United States. The animals are only rarely sighted in southern Texas and Arizona. The expanse of highways have led to habitat loss, and the small cats are often hit by cars or killed by dogs.

Photo from / CC BY 2.0

Wood Bison
Wood Bison

Wood Bison

Latin name:
Bison bison athabascae

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Canada, Alaska

North America's largest terrestrial mammal, the Canada Wood Bison, is a cousin of the Plains Bison that was almost driven to extinction by over-hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition to hunting and habitat loss, the Wood Bison faces dilution of its gene pool because of cross-breeding with the more common Prairie Bison. Efforts are underway in Canada to help restore the population in its native habitat, but diseases like tuberculosis and brucellosis have impacted recovery.

Photo from Angsar Walk / CC by 2.5

North Atlantic Right Whale
North Atlantic Right Whale

New England Aquarium Researchers Studying Right Whale Populations

North Atlantic Right Whale

Latin name:
Eubalaena glacialis

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Coasts of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia

In 1998, the entire population of the subspecies North Atlantic Right Whale was down to just 70 individuals, well below the endangered listing threshold of 250. Currently, the population of 300 to 350 animals occupies a migratory range along the eastern coast of North America. The Right Whales of the coast of North America were relentlessly hunted for centuries until a ban was instituted in 1935. The current population, though now protected from whaling, continues to be threatened by low reproduction rates, and the subspecies is in danger of becoming extinct.

Public domain photo from N.O.A.A.

California Condor
California Condor

Wild Condors in Southern Utah

California Condor

Latin name:
Gymnogyps californianus

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Arizona, California, Utah

The California Condor is North America's largest bird. It is a scavenger that feeds on carrion, and it almost became extinct in the 20th century due to poaching and man-made toxins like lead and DDT. In 1987, the last 22 remaining wild birds were captured and transferred to the San Diego Zoo, where a captive breeding program has successfully increased the population. There are now nearly 200 birds living in the wild in the American Southwest, but their intricate mating rituals and infrequent breeding pose a challenge to the specie's recovery in the wild.

Public domain photo from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Profile on the jaguar


Latin name:
Panthera onca

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Arizona, New Mexico

The jaguar is the largest and heaviest feline in the Western Hemisphere, and is third in size worldwide, after the tiger and lion. Its native habitat ranges from the American Southwest, through Mexico and Central America, all the way to Paraguay and Argentina. In North America, the species is nearly extinct, with only one possibly breeding population in Arizona. The main threat to the jaguar has historically been poaching, but today it is mainly conflict with humans and habitat encroachment. Trade in jaguar parts is illegal, but the cats are often killed by ranchers who find them to be a threat to their livestock. The best hope for preserving the species is its survival within the central Amazon region of South America.

Photo from / CC BY 2.0

Leatherback Research in Costa Rica

Leatherback Sea Turtle
Leatherback Sea Turtle

Tracking Leatherbacks Across The Pacific

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Latin name:
Dermochelys coriacea

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Beaches and coasts of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington

The largest of all the world's sea turtles, the critical endangerment of the Leatherback Sea Turtle is completely attributable to human interference. The males of the species never leave the sea once they enter it as hatchlings, and mating with females takes place at sea. The female then lays her eggs on land and buries them in the soft sand until they hatch a few weeks later. The eggs are often stolen by humans for consumption as a delicacy, and in Southeast Asia the species is all but extinct due to this activity. The hatchlings are vulnerable to attack by birds and fellow sea creatures, and as a result very few survive into adulthood. Those that do survive are often killed by pollution or from ingesting discarded balloons and plastic bags, which closely resemble jellyfish, their natural prey.The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico may seal this turtle's fate in North America.

Photo from / CC BY-SA 2.0

Florida Panther
Florida Panther

Florida Panther

Latin name:
Puma concolor coryi

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Florida, Arkansas

Also known as the puma, mountain lion and cougar, the wild population of the Florida Panther subspecies has dropped to less than 100 individuals. The greatest threats facing these big cats are diminishing habitat due to increased human development, run-ins with automobiles and encroachment into the range of their native habitat. Efforts are underway to help in the cats' recovery, but controversy over land use and development have turned the protection of these animals into a political fight in Florida.

Public domain photo from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Hammerhead Sharks Off Costa Rica

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark

Can Hammerheads Be Saved?

Hammerhead Shark

Latin name:
Sphyrna mokarran

Location(s) in North America where their population is Endangered: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean

Found in tropical waters around the world, the Hammerhead Shark is endangered due to both legal and illegal commercial and sports fishing practices. The Hammerhead is often caught as bycatch by longline and other commercial fishing methods, and once they're caught their mortality rate is 90%. The sharks are often caught intentionally for the sole use of their fins, which are used in Asian shark fin soup. The fish are caught, their fins sliced off, and then returned - still alive- to the sea, where they subsequently bleed to death. While this practice is banned in several countries, it continues elsewhere thanks to the high price paid in Asian countries. The estimated Hammerhead Shark population has decreased by more than 50% over the past 10 years.

Photo from / CC BY 2.0


Submit a Comment
  • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

    Mrs. Menagerie 

    8 years ago from The Zoo

    Awesome beautiful informative hub!

  • Sangay Glass profile image

    Sangay Glass 

    8 years ago

    It's sad. Many don't care about things they never see. I've been lucky to see most of these animals in their natural environments. I'm all for educating and volunteer at a wolf rescue. Act now on recent government actions against some of these animals.

  • sir slave profile image

    sir slave 

    8 years ago from Trinity county CA.

    Awesome hub Ed,

    what a great bunch of shots of beautiful animals!

    i write mostly political tirades from the left, but dabble in science and environmental issues..I live here in the middle of the shasta trinity national forest, so its hard to ignore. i wrote a small expose on SPI("sierra pacific industries, forest rapists") the nations largest timber interest(private)

    and the owner of around 2 million acres of the checkerboarded forests just here in cal.

    their unreplanted clear cuts have devastated forest bio-diversity. I will look for more of your work.

  • craftybegonia profile image


    9 years ago from Southwestern, United States

    Really nice hub. I love animals, so your topic touched me. That wolf reminded mye of our beloved dog Buddy!

  • htodd profile image


    9 years ago from United States

    great nice hub Thanks for sharing and videos chose is really terrific

  • my last breath profile image

    my last breath 

    9 years ago from ontario

    I have a love for wolves. They're beautiful creatures, they don't deserve to be killed off because humans are ignorant.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Jaguars and wolves rule! The black-footed ferret is so cute!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Its a shame that these unique animals have a chance of not being here, for other generations to enjoy. I have signed numerous petitions to stop seal slaughter in Canada, save the animals of the Gulf from the recent oil spill, and help save the gray wolf population get back on the endangered list here in Michigan.I am also an active member of the 'Defenders of Wildlife' community. I'm very happy to see someone who cares so much. You have so much healthy information here for all hubbers and internet browsers to see. Thank you for writing this hub and I hope to keep in touch :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    It's sad to think these beautiful animals are endangered species. I hate that thought. This is an excellent hub that lets people know just how bad the the situation is at this time. Good hub.

  • Edweirdo profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from United States

    I agree, Sidd. Keep an eye out - I plan on doing a hub about endangered animals in Asia, and the plight of the tiger will definitely be highlighted...

  • SiddSingh profile image


    9 years ago

    Hey Ed,

    Great hub on a really sad situation. Its too bad that we will lose some or most of these species altogether if things remain the way they are now.

    I read your other hub on endangered animals too, and one thing that stands out is that out of this list, most of the animals belonged to the extended cat family. Even here in India, the tigers are highly endangered, and we might have the misfortune of losing them in a few years time. Only 4000 are left :(

  • skyfire profile image


    9 years ago

    Ferrets are rarely seen in asia, so i think of them as close to extinction. Sad situation :(

    Keep writing Ed.. :)

  • Faybe Bay profile image

    Faye Constantino 

    9 years ago from Florida

    This is so sad. There are species going extinct every day. It's got to stop! I joined PETA, because a lot is poaching. Especially the turtles, and whales, but I am sure all of these animals are protected, and still people kill them. Great hub choice. Rating you up.

  • Edweirdo profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from United States

    Shaz and hippie, thanks for stopping by!

    I agree that this is a tragic situation - that's why I felt compelled to write about it.

    Keep an eye out for a couple more hubs on this topic, re: threatened animals in other parts of the world...

  • theherbivorehippi profile image


    9 years ago from Holly, MI

    It is such an outrage that the numbers of these wonderful animals are threatened! I'm linking this to my Gray Wolves hub. Thank you for writing on such an important topic!

  • shazwellyn profile image


    9 years ago from Great Britain

    Hi Edweirdo... A highly detailed hub, lots of information given, easily read and pleasing on the eye. Great to stop by and spread the loooove :)


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