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The Pigeon Mountain salamander is no longer at-risk of needing federal protection. Photo by John P. Clare, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

At-risk species conservation

Update: Download the Draft Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for Louisiana pinesnake in Louisiana.

Listing a plant or animal as federally protected under the Endangered Species Act is proven to be successful in preventing extinction.

However, providing a plant or animal this level of protection is America’s last line of defense. There are tremendous opportunities for voluntary conservation actions, undertaken before a species requires listing, to preclude the need to list species and improve habitats for listed, at-risk and common species alike.

A plant or animal is considered “at-risk” when:

  • It is proposed for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act,
  • It is a candidate species for listing, or
  • It has been petitioned by a third party for listing.

Learn more about the Southeast Region’s at-risk species strategy.

A small beige turtle with dark brown spots on it's shell standing on sandy sparsly vegetated ground.
A baby gopher tortoise. Photo by Randy Browning, USFWS.


  1. A dozen or so small grey fish next to a ruler. Mar 12, 2019 | 3 minute read

    Looking for the saltmarsh topminnow in coastal Louisiana

  2. A butterfly covered in white spots with orange and yellow wings perched on a purple flower. Jan 29, 2019 | 4 minute read

    Teeing up conservation

  3. A pine forest with trees snapped in half by high winds and a bent speed limit sign Nov 29, 2018 | 6 minute read

    After Hurricane Michael

  4. A brown sign bent in half by high winds that reads St Vincent NWR Oct 22, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Survivors of the storm

  5. A drum-shapped buoy washed ashore with plam trees and a lighthouse in the distance Oct 17, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Service makes headway in Hurricane Michael repairs

  6. A man with a beard looks closely at an insect with a magnifying glass Sep 18, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Protecting the rare

  7. A prescribed fire burns vegetation just outside of a housing development. Sep 10, 2018 | 9 minute read

    Safe and sound burning

  8. A hillside with debris and trees snapped in half like twigs. Aug 9, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Aid in the shade

  9. A small garden with a few small shrubs and plants surrounded by concrete pavers. Jul 17, 2018 | 1 minute read

    Warm Springs butterfly garden gets expansion

  10. Jun 4, 2018 | 7 minute read

    A shining example

  11. A turtle with a dark shell and orang spots surrounded by fallen leaves Apr 20, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Here, spot!

  12. A half dozen large silver fish jumping out of the water to a height of six feet. Mar 19, 2018 | 8 minute read

    A war in the water

  13. A hand holding eight endangered Cumberland bean mussels. Jan 30, 2018 | 1 minute read

    2017 mussel harvest in Kentucky is a success

  14. Purple/grey and bright orange flowers bloom in a grassy field. Aug 31, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Partners join to conserve rare prairie barrens in Kentucky

  15. Deep tire tracks scar a dirt road that cuts through a forest. Aug 29, 2017 | 3 minute read

    The dirt road connection

  16. Bright red flowers emerge from a bog with a forest in the background. Aug 24, 2017 | 8 minute read

    A unique mountain refuge protects endangered wetlands and the wildlife within

  17. A military officer in uniform releases a gopher tortoise next to a burrow. Aug 22, 2017 | 8 minute read

    Boosting the gopher tortoise

  18. A many wearing a wide-brimmed hat walking through a forest next to a young longleaf pine seedling. Aug 22, 2017 | 9 minute read

    Longleaf pine for Georgians

  19. A gentleman with a grey mustache standing next to a mature longleaf pine tree. Aug 9, 2017 | 8 minute read

    Growing trees, saving species

  20. Two finely manicured hands reach for a tiny gopher tortoise hiding in its shell on sandy soil. Jul 20, 2017 | 2 minute read

    Florida couple dedicates property to conservation

  21. Jul 19, 2017 | 1 minute read

    Wolf Creek continues mussel culture

  22. A sandy beach with a tuft of vegetation following a jetty. Jul 12, 2017 | 3 minute read

    A sanctuary for at-risk birds

  23. The sun sets over a lush green marsh cut in half by a calm brackish channel. Jul 12, 2017 | 13 minute read

    Many partners work together to protect “the Amazon of the South” for generations to come

  24. Wiry pine trees sparsley dot a sandy landscape. May 9, 2017 | 7 minute read

    A harmonious future for profits, pine and at-risk species along the Florida-Alabama line

  25. A biologist showing off a Louisiana pinsnake. May 3, 2017 | 1 minute read

    Family adventure day in Louisiana

  26. A head-on photograph of two grey fighter jets flying in formation with a blue sky and clouds in the background. Apr 26, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Biologists on bases: Fish and Wildlife joins the military

  27. Mature trees form a canopy shading the river from the sun. Mar 22, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Saving an endangered southern river

  28. A red, semi-transluscent fish with catfish like whiskers in an aquarium. Feb 8, 2017 | 3 minute read

    17 more fish, mussels, and other species don’t need the ESA’s protection

  29. May 5, 2016 | 1 minute read

    Conserving imperiled aquatic species in the Upper Tennessee River Basin

  30. Nov 22, 2013 | 4 minute read

    Service and its partners remove another dam in greater Birmingham area, improves aquatic habitat

  31. A piece of heavy machinery deconstructs a small dam. Jan 25, 2010 | 4 minute read

    Western North Carolina dam removal clears the way for imperiled species

Online tool for tracking at-risk species

We have developed a free, online tool, the At-Risk Species Finder, that allows anyone to discover essential information about a species’ status and the lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office for that species.

When determining whether or not a species requires the protection of the Act, we assign a Field Office as lead for reviewing all the best scientific and commercial information on the species’ status. Field Offices will have the most information on a particular at-risk species, and all offices follow the same process to determine whether or not a species may require federal protection.

Using the Finder, you can search species by:

  • Common and scientific name
  • State range
  • Taxon
  • Lead USFWS office or region
  • Current status
  • And more.

Access the At-Risk Species Finder.

A small, lobster-shaped crayfish with white belly and brownish red back and pincers in a sandy aquarium.
The lagniappe crayfish was petitioned and therefore at-risk until biologists determined it does not require protection. Photo by Chris Lukhaup, courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service.

Work with us

Whether you’re a landowner, state wildlife agency, private corporation, university or average American citizen, there are numerous opportunities to undertake voluntary actions to conserve species at-risk.

Learn more about at-risk species in the reading room.

To discuss the possibilities and to learn more, please contact:


Martha Keller, At-Risk Species Coordinator, (404) 679-4016

Contact Us:

Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson.

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