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Endangered animals to watch out for in every state

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Magdalena Paluchowska // Shutterstock

Endangered animals to watch out for in every state

Some of the most common threats to the survival of animals across the globe are habitat loss and loss of genetic diversity, according to the IUCN. The reasons for the endangered status of 50 species across the U.S. are as wide-ranging and varied as the shapes, sounds, and colors of the animals themselves. Previous examples of animal endangerment include collisions wiping out many West Indian manatees off the coast of South Carolina, forest logging robbing the ivory-billed woodpecker of much of its habitat in Arkansas, and the extinction of the passenger pigeon unleashing a domino effect on Rhode Island’s American burying beetle.

No matter what is causing the decline of each of these 50 species—presented here without ranking, with one per U.S. state—it is undeniable that climate change has played a role. According to the World Wildlife Federation, the Earth is currently warming up more rapidly than any other period in the past 10,000 years, forcing animal species across the globe to scramble to acclimate to erratic and constantly-shifting habitats. According to CBS News, species loss is now occurring at least tens, if not hundreds, of times faster than ever before, with over 500,000 land animals facing extinction before the end of this century.

Stacker consulted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System to find endangered animals to watch out for in every state. To identify the animals most threatened, Stacker focused on animals classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature except in instances where critically endangered animals were unavailable. New Hampshire and Maine animals are near threatened and not threatened, respectively, due to a limited amount of animals available for those states.

However, there is a silver lining. Since conditions are more desperate now than ever before, calls for action and change are also stronger than they've been in the past. Read on to discover what species to look out for and how to help with conservation efforts.

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Jwade30 // Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Spring pygmy sunfish

- Scientific name: Elassoma alabamae
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Thought to be extinct twice since it was first discovered in Cave Spring in Lauderdale County in 1937, the spring pygmy sunfish was rediscovered twice after that, most recently in Beaverdam Spring in 1973. Partial to colorless or slightly stained spring water, breeding males are more colorful than their female counterparts, with shimmering blue-green lines across their bodies. The species is facing extinction, mostly due to water pollution and shrinking spring bodies.

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Vaclav Sebek // Shutterstock

Alaska: Polar bear

- Scientific name: Ursus maritimus
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Habitat loss and climate change are battering the remaining population of polar bears. As Alaska’s Arctic experiences overheating from climate change twice as fast as the rest of the world, polar bears are struggling to maintain their habitat. Several factors distinguish polar bears from other bear species, including their size (they are the largest member of the bear family), narrow heads, and lack of true hibernation season.

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© Creed Clayton // GBIF

Arizona: Bonytail

- Scientific name: Gila elegans
- Other states with species: California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Bonytail chubs were “one of the first fish species to reflect the changes that occurred in the Colorado River basin after the construction of the Hoover Dam,” with its population completely wiped out from the dam’s lower basin by 1950. Today, habitat disturbances from dams still constitute one of the biggest threats to the bonytail, which is similar to other desert fish with its camouflage-pigmented skin.

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center // GBIF

Arkansas: Ivory-billed woodpecker

- Scientific name: Campephilus principalis
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Conservationists “warned of the impending extinction” of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the early 20th century. Still, the species has persisted for a full century since then, with the discovery of a new population at the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas in 2004. A large bird, growing to over 1.5 feet long, the species can be identified by the bright red crests of males and white feathers, giving the appearance of a “saddle” on the back. Logging and forest clearing has caused the endangered status of this bird, taking away much of its habitat.

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David Calhoun // Shutterstock

California: California Condor

- Scientific name: Gymnogyps californianus
- Other states with species: Arizona, Utah
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

The California condor is the largest land bird in North America and weighs up to 25 pounds with a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet. The California condor is distinct from other birds of prey by its lack of sharp talons. This condor’s range stretched across North America when the first European settlers came; by 1940, however, habitats had been reduced to southern California. Today, human-made disturbances continue to be responsible for the species’ diminishing numbers, including lead contamination, micro-trash, powerlines, and wind turbines.

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Larry Lamsa // Flickr

Colorado: Gunnison sage-grouse

- Scientific name: Centrocercus minimus
- Other states with species: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah
- IUCN category: Endangered

Perhaps the most noticeable characteristic of the Gunnison sage-grouse is its ‘ponytail:’ a long, black filoplume extending out from the back of males’ necks and heads. Though historically the bird was found wherever sagebrush habitats existed, including New Mexico and Arizona, today its range is limited to southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. This is largely due to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from commercial and housing development.

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USFWS/Susan Wojtowicz // Flickr

Connecticut: Puritan tiger beetle

- Scientific name: Cicindela puritana
- Other states with species: Maryland, Massachusetts
- IUCN category: Endangered

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Puritan tiger beetles were collected in towns along the Connecticut River, contributing to their decline. Today, the two remaining populations in Maryland and Connecticut are vanishing due to dam construction, riverbank stabilization, and human recreation. They are distinguished by their brown-to-green wings, with white markings on the edges.

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Don McLeish/NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC // Flickr

Delaware: Hawksbill sea turtle

- Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata
- Other states with species: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

At 3 feet long and weighing up to 154 pounds, the hawksbill sea turtle is on the smaller spectrum of sea turtles. The beak-shaped jaws for which it is named allow it to scavenge squid, shrimp, and sponges from the crevices of coral reefs. The greatest threat to this species has long been the harvesting of its distinctive, colorfully-patterned shell, which is still used to make headpieces and jewelry in some countries.

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B. McPhee/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Florida: Red wolf

- Scientific name: Canis rufus
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

With a range that previously spread across the central U.S., red wolves were “decimated by the early 20th century as a result of intensive predator control programs and the degradation and alteration of the species’ habitat.” Although its 1967 endangered designation offered some protection, today humans remain the red wolf’s biggest dangers, diminishing populations through vehicle accidents, hunting, and the like. Highly social animals, red wolves live in close-knit packs of up to eight and often form lifelong pair-bonds.

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Jerry A. Payne/USDA Agricultural Research Service // Wikimedia Commons

Georgia: Conasauga logperch

- Scientific name: Percina jenkinsi
- Other states with species: Tennessee
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Known for its dark tiger stripes and piglike snout, the Conasauga logperch uses that same snout to flip over stones to search for food. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, multiple subspecies of percina were elevated to full species, increasing the multitude and diversity of the fish. Its habitat is jeopardized by pollution from agricultural and urban development.

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Martin Fowler // Shutterstock

Hawaii: Laysan Duck

- Scientific name: Anas laysanensis
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Shipwrecks have long spelled out destruction for the Laysan duck, which was first recorded on Lisianski Island in 1828. When shipwrecked sailors came ashore in 1844, they hunted the population to survive. A second shipwreck two years later deposited another hoard of duck-hungry sailors and mice that destroyed the species’ habitat. Today, this brown and green/blue/purple bird is protected on the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, with some ducks transported to Midway Atoll in 2005 in an attempt to regenerate the species.

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US Forest Service Intermountain Region // Flickr

Idaho: Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel

- Scientific name: Urocitellus brunneus
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

The northern Idaho ground squirrel’s decline has been rapid and recent: just 34 years ago, their population in Adams and Valley counties was estimated to be around 5,000, a number that sank to 1,000 by 1998. Fire suppression methods have shrunk the meadow habitat of this species, which hibernates for eight months of the year after gorging itself on grass seeds and stems.

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center // GBIF

Illinois: Orangefoot pimpleback (pearlymussel)

- Scientific name: Plethobasus cooperianus
- Other states with species: Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

A filter feeder, this mussel—recognizable by the raised tubercles extending from its shell—siphons water inside its shell, where gills filter out food and oxygen. Historically rare, interruptions to the Tennessee and Cumberland river basins thanks to dam construction and hydroelectric power generation are the main culprits contributing to the orangefoot pimpleback’s decline.

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Larisa Bishop-Boros // Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Gray bat

- Scientific name: Myotis grisescens
- Other states with species: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Be careful not to disturb gray bats inside the few caves where their populations are concentrated. Human disturbances have led to bats depleting energy by waking too soon from hibernation, fleeing their caves and dying, or dropping their young in a panic, all of which contribute to their endangerment. This species is distinct from other bats by its wing membrane connecting to its ankle rather than toe. Though population numbers steadily declined throughout the 20th century, between 1992 and 2001, the species abruptly increased from 1.5 million to 2.3 million, continuing to increase after that.

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USFWS Mountain Prairie // Flickr

Iowa: Pallid sturgeon

- Scientific name: Scaphirhynchus albus
- Other states with species: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee
- IUCN category: Endangered

An “ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs,” the pallid sturgeon’s population has dwindled since the 1960s, largely thanks to river interruptions from channels and dams restricting its habitat and food sources. Adapted to living close to the bottom of rivers, the species has a toothless mouth under its snout that's perfect for sucking up food from the silty river base.

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© Ryan Blankenship // GBIF

Kansas: Neosho mucket

- Scientific name: Lampsilis rafinesqueana
- Other states with species: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
- IUCN category: Endangered

“Compressed” and “relatively thin,” the Neosho mucket has a brownish-yellow shell interspersed with “green rays.” It was first described in 1927 based on a population found in Oklahoma, and today faces threats from mining, quarrying, dams, and other industrial developments that encroach on its habitat.

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Dick Biggins/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky: Duskytail darter

- Scientific name: Etheostoma percnurum
- Other states with species: Tennessee, Virginia
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

This species has only recently come into the public eye, first discovered in 1995 in Kentucky by two scientists, Eisenhower and Burr. With a dark head and brown body, males develop golden knobs on the tips of their fins during the spring to help them protect the female’s eggs. Habitat limitations due to siltation and pollution have greatly harmed population numbers.

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Andy Wraithmell/Florida Fish and Wildlife // Flickr

Louisiana: Kemp's Ridley sea turtle

- Scientific name: Lepidochelys kempii
- Other states with species: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Conservation efforts for this sea turtle species began in 1966 in Tamaulipas, Mexico, which remains the only place globally where large nests of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle occur. The U.S. joined Mexico’s efforts in 1978, helping to expand the number of camps along the Tamaulipas and Veracruz coasts to curt tail the nest damage inflicted by commercial fishing and purposeful harvesting. Juvenile turtles can spend up to two years drifting on currents around the Gulf of Mexico or the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, after which they return to their native areas and complete their maturation.

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Alcides Morales/USFWS/Southeast // Flickr

Maine: Roseate tern

- Scientific name: Sterna dougallii
- Other states with species: Rhode Island
- IUCN category: Least Concern

The roseate tern’s decline first began in the late 1800s, when they were heavily hunted in the northeastern U.S. for use as materials in hats. Though populations peaked in the 1930s after the Migratory Bird Act Treaty introduced a level of protection to the species, its number has steadily lowered since then, largely due to habitat disruption and predators. The roseate tern forages for food by plunge-diving: rapidly diving down and completely submerging underwater to catch fish.

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Irina Sereg/NPS // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland: Hay's spring amphipod

- Scientific name: Stygobromus hayi
- Other states with species: District of Columbia
- IUCN category: Endangered

A “white, eyeless, shrimp-like crustacean” that only grows to around half an inch long, the Hay’s Spring amphipod has an extremely small range, limited only to Hay’s Spring within Rock Creek Park, which stretches across both Washington D.C. and Maryland. Discovered in 1940, the tiny population is particularly vulnerable to extinction, with flooding, urban waste, and otherwise minute changes to water quality having detrimental effects.

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IrinaK // Shutterstock

Massachusetts: Leatherback sea turtle

- Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacea
- Other states with species: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

The leatherback sea turtle holds many superlative titles: It is not only the largest sea turtle in the world but also the deepest diving and most migratory and wide-ranging. They are also the only sea turtle that lacks a hard shell. They once filled every ocean beside the Arctic and Antarctic, but hunting by humans for their eggs and meat, marine pollution, predators, and commercial fisheries have all contributed to this species’ endangered status.

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Craig Stihler/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Michigan: Clubshell

- Scientific name: Pleurobema clava
- Other states with species: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

With a bright yellow-to-brown, triangle-shaped shell, the clubshell is a small but easily recognizable mussel, historically taking up residence in the Wabash, Ohio, Kanawha, Kentucky, Green, Monogahela, and Allegheny Rivers and tributaries. Pollution from agricultural and industrial development has contributed to its reduction, particularly within the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. Another threat as of late has been the zebra mussel, a non-native mussel that multiplies rapidly and suffocates native species such as the clubshell.

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Kristen Lundh/USFWS // Flickr

Minnesota: Sheepnose mussel

- Scientific name: Plethobasus cyphyus
- Other states with species: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
- IUCN category: Endangered

Medium-sized, with a smooth, shiny shell, the sheepnose mussel spends its entire adult life buried in sand and gravel within shallow areas along rivers and streams. Historically widespread throughout the Mississippi River, dams, sedimentation, and pollution have all diminished its population.

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Dick Biggins/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi: Bayou darter

- Scientific name: Etheostoma rubrum
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Endangered

First taxonified in 1966, the bayou darter is known for its quick movements and red-tipped fins. Pollution and mining runoff have sullied the waters it occupies, endangering the species.

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USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Missouri: Benton County cave crayfish

- Scientific name: Cambarus aculabrum
- Other states with species: Arkansas
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Distinct from other crayfish due to its complete lack of pigment, the Benton County cave crayfish makes its home along pool walls and stream edges. Only first described as a new species in the late 1980s, its biggest threat is lowering water quality—though limited distributions and reproductive opportunities also threaten the species.

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Richard Seeley // Shutterstock

Montana: Whooping crane

- Scientific name: Grus americana
- Other states with species: Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin
- IUCN category: Endangered

The tallest North American bird at nearly 5 feet, the whooping crane has a widely varied diet, including everything from frogs, rodents, and smaller birds to acorns, insects, and berries. Historically, the bird populated a range stretching from longitudinally from Utah to New Jersey and latitudinally from Canada to central Mexico. Though its population was projected to be between 500 and 700 in 1870, it declined to only 16 by 1941 due to hunting and continues to lower today as a result of hurricanes, contaminant spills, and power lines.

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Cephas // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: Eskimo curlew

- Scientific name: Numenius borealis
- Other states with species: Alaska, Texas
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

So many Eskimo curlew migrated from South America to the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic in the mid-19th century that “historic reports tell of the skies being full of Eskimo curlews at they migrated through the prairie states and provinces.” The extinction of the Rocky Mountain grasshopper, a major food source, and habitat loss due to agricultural development have since diminished populations nearly to extinction. The Eskimo curlew can be identified by its cinnamon color and v-shaped black markings.

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Olin Feuerbacher/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Nevada: Devils Hole pupfish

- Scientific name: Cyprinodon diabolis
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

The inch-long, blue-colored Devils Hole pupfish will spend most of its life in a narrowly-defined habitat, the topmost 80 feet of the 93-degree waters of Devils Hole, a pool inside of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Though the population appeared unthreatened throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, a decline began in 1997, for reasons still not entirely clear. From there, numbers continued to fall, hitting a record low of 65 in 2013. Though biologists are not entirely sure what is to blame for the Devils Hole pupfish’s demise, it is thought that the species’ small range plays a role, as this results in a lack of ability to adapt to a shifting environment.

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Brian Lasenby // Shutterstock

New Hampshire: Piping plover

- Scientific name: Charadrius melodus
- Other states with species: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey
- IUCN category: Near Threatened

Piping plover chicks “have been likened to tiny wind-up toys or cotton balls with legs:” the small, sand-colored bird runs in short bursts through the outer beaches where it resides. Though the species was commonly seen along the Atlantic coast throughout the 1800s, their feathers were prized for use in hats, and commercial hunting severely lowered population numbers in the early 20th century. Today, habitat loss and nest disturbance due to coastal development and recreation play the largest roles in the piping plover’s endangered status.

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Susi Von Oettingen/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey: Dwarf wedgemussel

- Scientific name: Alasmidonta heterodon
- Other states with species: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Rarely growing beyond 1.5 inches, the dwarf wedgemussel, like other mussels, is yellow-brown and resides on the sandy bottoms of creeks and rivers. Its main threat is habitat destruction due to a variety of factors, including dam construction, pollution, sedimentation, and fluctuating water temperatures. Though this species once had an additional population in New Brunswick, it was extirpated from Canada by the late 1960s.

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© Hans Hillewaert / CC BY-SA 4.0// Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico: Noel's amphipod

- Scientific name: Gammarus desperatus
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Groundwater depletion and spring channelization shrank populations of Noel’s amphipod before 1988 in three springs near Roswell, New Mexico, a hit that was made worse by a 2002 fire inside the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge which suffocated surviving populations. Today, oil and gas drilling constitute the largest threats to this species, with at least 190 oil wells in the Roswell Basin threatening to contaminate its habitat. During the breeding season, “amphipods form strong attachments to their mates—literally,” with pairs physically bonding together for up to a week before separating again.

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Angela Boyer // USFWS

New York: Rayed bean

- Scientific name: Villosa fabalis
- Other states with species: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
- IUCN category: Endangered

The rayed bean—named after its bean shape, with male shells slightly more elongated and female shells slightly more elliptical—was historically found in 10 states stretching from Tennessee to the Canadian border. It was first placed on the waiting list for inclusion under the Endangered Species Act during the ’80s. Dams have been a particularly devastating blow to the rayed bean, which requires flowing water to survive, with effects ranging from disrupting habitats, changing water temperatures, and causing water habitats to lie still.

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David Evison // Shutterstock

North Carolina: Green sea turtle

- Scientific name: Chelonia mydas
- Other states with species: Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia
- IUCN category: Endangered

Easily identified by its uniquely heart-shaped shell, the green sea turtle has faced threats across the globe. Perhaps most prominent is commercial hunting for sea turtle eggs and meat, closely followed by fibropapillomatosis, a disease that riddles sea turtles with tumors that render them unable to swim, breath, see, or eat. It was originally observed in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, often described as the ‘father of modern taxonomy.’

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Andrew Horton/USFWS // Flickr

North Dakota: Dakota skipper

- Scientific name: Hesperia dacotae
- Other states with species: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota
- IUCN category: Endangered

As “extensive destruction of native prairie preceded widespread biological surveys in the central United States,” the historical range of the Dakota skipper is not known but is anecdotally recorded to have stretched across the north-central U.S. and south-central Canada. The development of prairie habitat for agricultural and residential use has long been the major factor in the decline of this species, which has an orange-brown dust color and a wingspan of merely 1 inch.

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Janet Butler/USFWS // Flickr

Ohio: Fanshell

- Scientific name: Cyprogenia stegaria
- Other states with species: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Once known to reside in the Ohio River and its tributaries across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Virginia, dams, pollution, and sand and gravel mining have majorly reduced the population of the fanshell. The mussel, which is classified as medium-sized at a maximum length of 3.2 inches, has a yellow and green shell exterior and gleaming white interior.

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University of Texas, Biodiversity Center, Ichthyology Collection (TNHCi) // GBIF

Oklahoma: Arkansas River shiner

- Scientific name: Notropis girardi
- Other states with species: Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Though the Arkansas River shiner was once “abundant” across the Arkansas River basin in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, this 2-inch, silvery minnow is now only found along the Canadian River in the latter three states. Its population diminished mainly due to habitat destruction. It is an annual species, meaning that barely any of its population lives longer than one year.

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Mid-Columbia River Refuges // Wikimedia Commons

Oregon: Oregon spotted frog

- Scientific name: Rana pretiosa
- Other states with species: California, Washington
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Named for the black spots that dot this species’ head, torso, and legs, the Oregon spotted frog’s color grows more vibrant with age. Loss of habitat, the introduction of non-native plant species, and fluctuating water quality have all contributed to this species’ decline. Included under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, its critical habitat was designated two years later.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service // Flickr

Pennsylvania: Snuffbox mussel

- Scientific name: Epioblasma triquetra
- Other states with species: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
- IUCN category: Endangered

Like the Oregon spotted frog, the snuffbox mussel’s colors darken with age, with green markings fading and yellow, green, or brown shell color deepening as mussels mature into adulthood. The species was previously distributed across 18 states and Ontario, Canada. Dam construction, pollution, sedimentation, and nonnative zebra mussel invasions have restricted the snuffbox mussel’s range to 14 states and Ontario today.

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Jamie Jones/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: American burying beetle

- Scientific name: Nicrophorus americanus
- Other states with species: Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

The disappearance of the American burying beetle from 31 of the 34 states it had historically occupied is still a mystery to scientists, who have raised new populations in labs and released them on Penikese Island in Massachusetts in hopes of stimulating species growth. The growing popularity in the use of DDT and the extinction of the passenger pigeon are thought to be possible culprits, however. The species is recognizable thanks to the distinct reddish-orange markings on its wing covers and head, as well as its strong flying abilities.

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Keith Ramos/USFWS // Flickr

South Carolina: West Indian manatee

- Scientific name: Trichechus manatus
- Other states with species: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

Hunting played a huge role in the vanishment of manatees from coasts stretching from the American Atlantic to the Brazilian Atlantic, with manatee hunts popular until the early 20th century. Today, watercraft collisions are hugely responsible for the continuing diminishment of manatee populations. At lengths of over 14 feet and weights of over 3,000 pounds, the West Indian manatee is a highly mobile marine mammal, traveling in the summer months to locations across the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

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Ryan Hagerty/USFWS // Flickr

South Dakota: Black-footed ferret

- Scientific name: Mustela nigripes
- Other states with species: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico
- IUCN category: Endangered

As the black-footed ferret relies on prairie dogs for food and prairie dog habitats for shelter, prairie dog decline due to grassland urbanization leads to the subsequent shrinkage of the ferret population. So low did population numbers sink that the species was thought to be extinct twice during the 1900s. At only 1.4 to 2.5 pounds and up to 2 feet long, the black-footed ferret is “slender” and “wiry,” with advanced senses of hearing, sight, and smell.

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United States Geological Survey // Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Pygmy madtom

- Scientific name: Noturus stanauli
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Endangered

The pygmy madtom is the smallest of the madtoms, growing only to 1.5 inches long, but is nonetheless threatening, equipped with a venomous spine used to wound others in self-defense. The species population has dwindled mainly due to poor water quality, including pollution, siltation, and waste runoff. It was first listed as endangered in 1993.

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Joel Deluxe // Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Texas hornshell

- Scientific name: Popenaias popeii
- Other states with species: New Mexico
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

A case of mistaken identity has further decreased already-diminishing numbers of Texas hornshell, as historically recognized populations in the Gulf Coast were recently discovered to be another, undescribed species. Habitat loss and diminished water quality are the largest threats to this freshwater mussel, which grows to roughly 4.5 inches and can live for more than two decades.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service // Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Razorback sucker

- Scientific name: Xyrauchen texanus
- Other states with species: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

So prominent is the sharp bulge between the head and fin atop the razorback sucker’s back that the fish was named for it, sometimes also called the “humpback sucker.” Pollution, invasive non-native species, and dam construction all negatively alter the species’ habitat, leading to its endangered status. California first classified it as endangered in 1974, 20 years before the U.S. government. The fish was spotted in the Grand Canyon in 2012, the first time it had been seen there since the 1990s.

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USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab // Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Rusty patched bumble bee

- Scientific name: Bombus affinis
- Other states with species: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

Habitat loss, disease, and pesticide use have cut rusty patched bumble bee populations down to a mere 0.1% of its historical range over the past two decades. The species is also the first bee in the lower 48 states to be classified as federally endangered in May 2019. While all rusty patched bumble bees have black heads, workers and males have a “rusty reddish patch centrally located” on their backs—as distinguished from the queens, of which there is one per colony.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region // Flickr

Virginia: Madison Cave isopod

- Scientific name: Antrolana lira
- Other states with species: West Virginia
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

The Madison Cave isopod may owe its alien appearance—it has no eyes, no pigment, and seven pairs of legs—to its storied history. It is the direct descendant of similar-looking ancestors that existed along the dinosaurs millions of years ago, surviving for thousands of centuries to now be sequestered to a few caves across Virginia and West Virginia. Today’s Madison Cave isopod is struggling to maintain its historical resiliency against the threats of agricultural, industrial, and urban development.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service // Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Bull trout

- Scientific name: Salvelinus confluentus
- Other states with species: Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

As the bull trout require cold water for survival, rarely residing in bodies of water with temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit or so, climate change has had particularly harsh effects on its populations by warming water temperatures and rendering many previous habitats unsuitable. The species— distinguished from other trout types by its spot-less dorsal fin and the orange spots that appear on its back—was included under the Endangered Species Act in 1999, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designating 9,000 miles of rivers and streams as critical habitat in 2010.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service // Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia: Diamond darter

- Scientific name: Crystallaria cincotta
- Other states with species: N/A
- IUCN category: Critically Endangered

So named for the way its silver skin glimmers at night, the diamond darter was historically spread throughout the Ohio River basin, before dam constructions interrupted and altered its habitat. Today, its population struggles to hold up against threats from coal mining, oil and gas drilling, timber harvesting, and sewage runoff, all degrading water quality in the darter’s habitat.

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Gary J. Wege/USFWS // Flickr

Wisconsin: Higgins eye

- Scientific name: Lampsilis higginsii
- Other states with species: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota
- IUCN category: Endangered

The Higgins eye pearlymussel has always been rare, as it was “heavily harvested around the turn of the century for use of its shell in mother-of-pearl buttons and pins.” Sedimentation, invasive nonnative species, and agricultural runoff all continue to threaten the species today. Besides use as buttons and pins, however, these mussels carry out a plethora of other jobs, including filtering water to improve environmental quality and creating microhabitats on river bottoms for other species to thrive in.

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USFWS Mountain Prairie // Flickr

Wyoming: Colorado pikeminnow

- Scientific name: Ptychocheilus lucius
- Other states with species: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah
- IUCN category: Vulnerable

The largest minnow in North America, the Colorado pikeminnow, was previously a common food source so abundant that early settlers caught them using only pitchforks. The 1931 construction of the Hoover Dam had detrimental effects on populations. However, water temperature fluctuations, higher salinity, and disrupted flow patterns are also to blame for dwindling population numbers. The pikeminnow’s scientific name, Ptychocheilus lucius, references the way its large mouth folds behind its jaws, with no teeth present.

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