U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Listing an Endangered Species


Listing means designating a species as threatened or endangered under the ESA.  Once listed, species receive the full benefit of the ESA, such as restrictions against take and transportation/selling of listed species or their parts; a prohibition against Federal activities jeopardizing their continued existence or adversely modifying critical habitat; and development and implementation of recovery plans.   

How it Works

    Our sister agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), is generally responsible for the listing of imperiled marine species.  For imperiled species that depend on both marine and freshwater or terrestrial (land) habitats, listing sometimes is undertaken by both (or either) of the Services.  In Alaska, the USFWS has jurisdiction for polar bears, sea otters, and Pacific walrus, and NMFS has jurisdiction for seals, whales, and sea lions.  For a list of species listed by NMFS in Alaska click here.

    Before a plant or animal species can receive ESA protections, it must first be added to the Federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.  A species is added to the list when it is determined to be endangered or threatened because of any of the following factors:

    • the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
    • overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
    • disease or predation;
    • the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
    • other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence

    There are two ways a species comes to be listed under the ESA: petitions or candidate assessments.  Any interested person or entity may petition the Secretary of the Interior to add or remove a species from the list of endangered and threatened species. 

    The USFWS has developed guidelines for  submitting a petition. Through the candidate assessment process, our biologists evaluate the best available scientific information to decide whether to identify species as candidates for listing.  For more details, download this Listing fact sheet.

    Watch the Narrated Slide Show to the right for a brief overview of the Listing process.

    When we list a species we must determine if we need to designate critical habitat.  A species’ critical habitat includes those areas thought to be essential for its conservation/continued existence. 

    The health of threatened and endangered species is strongly linked to our own well-being.

    Learn About Listing

    Endangered Species Listing Slideshow
    Endangered Species Listing Slideshow

    Watch this Narrated Slide Show for a brief overview of the Listing process.

    Species listed as endangered or threatened by USFWS in Alaska