There are few federally threatened or endangered animal species that are known to occur at Waubay NWR. Piping plovers have nested nearby but have not been seen in many years since high water levels have eliminated many sandy beaches around wetlands. The whooping crane will occasionally be seen migrating in this area.
Though once common over much of North America, the American burying beetle (photo left) has disappeared from 90% of its range. Hypotheses explaining its decline range from deforestation, loss of available carrion in the required size since the extirpation of passenger pigeon and declines in prairie chickens, and increased competition for resources from skunks, raccoons, and other scavengers.
The bald eagle was recently removed from the endangered species list. Evidence of its success can be seen in the many nests that can be found throughout South Dakota and the country.
Dakota skipper and Poweshiek butterflies are candidate species for listing. They are small, fast flying butterflies found primarily in high quality native prairies. It is unknown what is causing the decline in these species though habitat loss is probably an important factor.