If you love nature, you may be concerned about the declining populations of some plants and animals in the US. though they live all over the country, some states have more than their fair share.
The following 25 states have more endangered species than anywhere else in the US. That’s according to 2015 data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) – the most recent federal data available.
Number of endangered species: 24
You’ve probably heard about the plight of endangered grey wolves, but have you heard about the Poweshiek skipperling? It’s a type of small native butterfly found in tallgrass prairie areas from Manitoba, Canada all the way to Iowa.
Number of endangered species: 26
The Kirtland’s warbler is one of the most endangered members of the warbler family of birds and is native to Michigan, parts of Wisconsin, and parts of Ontario. It can be found nowhere else on earth.
Ohio and Indiana
Number of endangered species (tied): 27
In Ohio, the Scioto madtom is a species of fish so rare that only 18 have ever been collected, from Big Darby Creek in central Ohio. None of them have been seen since 1957, but it remains on the Endangered Species list so that it may receive protection immediately if another one is ever found.
In Indiana, the interior least tern is the smallest tern found in all of North America. They love catching small fish from standing or flowing water sources.
22. West Virginia
Number of endangered species: 28
The diamond darter is a tiny freshwater fish that is so rare, fewer than 50 of them have been collected in the past 30 years.
21. Illinois and Colorado
Number of endangered species (tied): 33
The Illinois cave amphipod only lives in caves, and specifically only lives in caves down at the southern tip of Illinois. We can think of it as a water quality indicator, comparable to a canary in a coal mine – these amphipods are very sensitive to poor water quality.
In Colorado, the black-footed ferret is the only ferret native to North America. Domestic ferrets kept as pets are a different species – Mustela putorius furo– of European origin.
Number of endangered species: 35
The Ozark Hellbender is a large aquatic salamander that can live up to 30 years in the wild and is only found in Arkansas and Missouri, in the White River watershed.
19. South Carolina
Number of endangered species: 38
The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, and one of a handful that call South Carolina home. They can live to be around 50 years old and are tiny by sea turtle standards – weighing in around 100 pounds at maturity.
Number of endangered species: 39
The grotto sculpin is a tiny fish that lives entirely in Perry County, Missouri and is found nowhere else in the world. Cave streams are its home, and water contamination its mortal enemy.
Number of endangered species: 40
You might think of Nevada as primarily being a desert state, but it’s home to many federally endangered fish species. The cui-ui is found only in Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River, which is located within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation – and nowhere else on the planet.
Number of endangered species: 43
The Kanab ambersnail is only found in a few small ponds near Kanab, Utah – and also in Grand Canyon National Park. The species dates all the way back to the Pleistocene age.
Number of endangered species: 46
The Kentucky cave shrimp is exclusively found in certain underground streams in Kentucky. Since it has lived underground for so long, it has no eyes.
Number of endangered species: 47
The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is the smallest member of the rabbit family. By 2001, fewer than 50 were known to still exist. Unfortunately, the wild Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits that conservationists tried to breed were not able to produce enough offspring to call the purebred conservation effort successful.
Since 2011, conservationists have been cross-breeding them with other pygmy rabbits from Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming. The final purebred Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, unfortunately, passed away in 2008.
Number of endangered species: 51
When you think of Mississippi, chances are good that whales aren’t the first thing on your mind. However, the fin whale is the second-largest living mammal in the world – after the blue whale – and you can find it off the coast of Mississippi.
If you look to the skies, only around 100 Mississippi sandhill cranes still exist in the wild. You can find them nowhere else on earth but in the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife
12. New Mexico
Number of endangered species: 54
The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse was once prevalent all over the Southwest. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, it’s now endangered – but since most of its remaining habitat is on federal land, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been coordinating efforts to develop conservation measures for these mice.
Number of endangered species: 56
The short-tailed albatross currently breeds on only two islands in the Pacific Ocean – near the seas of Taiwan and Japan. They were thought to be extinct until 1951, after having nearly been wiped out as a species because of their desirable feathers.
Number of endangered species: 65
Far from merely inspiring a car make, the jaguar is the largest cat in North America and the third-largest cat species in the world today. Interestingly, jaguars love water – unlike pretty much every other big cat.
9. North Carolina
Number of endangered species: 66
The Carolina northern flying squirrel is a nocturnal animal that has been around since the last ice age. It makes its home in the Southern Appalachians, along with its much more common cousin – the Carolina southern flying squirrel, which is smaller, has different colouring and is not currently listed as endangered.
Number of endangered species: 74
The red-cockaded woodpecker was once a common sight in the southeastern US. Unfortunately, with dwindling habitat over time, it is now considered endangered with a total population of under 10,000.
Number of endangered species: 74
The North Atlantic right whale is what you might call an endangered species even among endangered species. Scientists estimate that between just 300 and 400 of these creatures remain in existence.
Even more worryingly, no new births were recorded for the 2017-2018 breeding season – which made marine ecologist Mark Baumgartner tell the Guardian, “At the rate we are killing them off, this 100 females [remaining] will be gone in 20 years.”
Number of endangered species: 96
The spruce-fir moss spider is the world’s smallest tarantula. It’s only found in a few areas in the Southern Appalachians and is one of only three spiders on the federally endangered list.
Number of endangered species: 103
The Eskimo curlew was once a marvellous sight to behold as it migrated between its winter home in Argentina to the species’ favoured nesting grounds up in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. History talks about flocks covering as much as 40 to 50 acres of ground by themselves.
Due to a combination of factors, this bird hasn’t been sighted since 1967, and may already be extinct – but scientists are uncertain.
Number of endangered species: 122
The Mitchell’s satyr butterfly was thought to only still exist in limited populations in Michigan and Indiana. However, in recent years, new populations have shown up in the southeast – especially Alabama. More genetic testing is needed to determine whether this species is making a comeback elsewhere in the country.
Number of endangered species: 135
The Florida panther population is down to somewhere around 100 to 180 members in southern Florida – the only place in the wild where this species exists. Their breeding grounds used to range across the southeastern US, but now seem to exclusively lie in the southern tip of Florida, south of the Caloosahatchee River.
Number of endangered species: 299
The San Joaquin kit fox is currently one of the most endangered species in the entire state of California. It’s around the size of a housecat and thrived in the San Joaquin Valley prior to the conversion of native grasslands to farms, cities, and orchards.
Number of endangered species: 503
Given the wide range of unique microclimates and topography, it’s no surprise that Hawaii is home to some of the most unique species on earth. Many endangered bird species call these islands home, including the forest bird known as the akiapōlā’au. It has a very specialised bill shape to enable it to pick insect larvae out of tree branches.
For a deep state-by-state dive into how well the Endangered Species Act is working, check out this January 2018 collection of fact sheets from the Center for American Progress.
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