Endangered Species
Ecological Services

Class of 1967

Welcome to the Class of 1967! The Class of 1967 refers to the very first list of endangered species given federal protection, and includes the grizzly bear, American alligator, Florida manatee, bald eagle, and more. This list was published on March 11, 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966–the first piece of federal legislation that would allow native species of fish and wildlife, at risk of extinction, to be formally protected within their range. This Class of 1967 list includes information on the 75 species under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jurisdiction.

What eventually became the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the core mission has remained the same—to conserve endangered and threatened species, protect ecosystems and enforce all treaties related to wildlife preservation. The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants. It has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, promoted the recovery of many others, and conserved the habitats upon which they and countless other wildlife depend.

Endangered species recovery is complex and difficult work, often requiring substantial time and resources. Just as the decline of species occurs over the course of years and decades species to reach the brink of extinction, it takes a long time to bring them back. As we reflect on the Class of 1967, we've provided a snapshot of how these species were doing in 1967, the threats they faced, and the reasons they declined; as well as the current threats to survival, and the conservation efforts in place today to stave off extinction and help stabilize their populations.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, here are a handful of milestones and moments on the road to recovery from some of the species in the Class of 67.

Akiapolaau (Hemignathus wilsoni)

Akiapolaau (Hemignathus wilsoni).

Then: The akiapolaau is a member of the Hawaiian honeycreeper family that has evolved to fill the niche occupied by woodpeckers in many other parts of the world. This is a bright yellow bird that is immediately recognized by its sharply curving upper mandible in the shape of a sickle. In 1967 it was incredibly rare to see an akiapolaau, due to the loss and degradation of forest habitat and competition from non-native plants and animals.

Now: Today, there are estimated to be more 1,900 in the wild, and the populations are continuing to slowly increase primarily as a result of habitat conservation and restoration efforts. The Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, the first such refuge established solely for the Hawaiian forest birds, provides a protected environment for the akiapolaau and many other threatened and endangered birds.

Species profile

Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia)

Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia).

Then: The Aleutian Canada goose is a subspecies of the Canada geese found only on a few of Alaska's remote, windswept Aleutian Islands and in areas of California and Oregon. The Aleutian Canada goose was heavily predated by foxes that were introduced to onto the Aleutian Islands in the 1700s. These islands were within the sole breeding range of the goose. The subspecies was considered extinct until a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) biologist discovered a small remnant population of 300 birds on Buldir Island.

Now: Through unprecedented cooperation with foreign nations and state governments, and in partnership with private landowners and organizations, the Service was able to slowly bring the bird back. Birds were moved to Buldir Island to other islands after all foxes had been removed—the birds have thrived without the threat of predation. In 2001, the Aleutian Canada goose was declared recovered and removed from the endangered species list. Biologists estimate that the population has rebounded to about 37,000 Aleutian Canada geese, and that the threat of extinction has passed.

Species profile

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).

Then: For decades, the American alligator was hunted for its valuable leather. By the middle of the 20th century, American alligator populations were severely depleted. Hunting alligators was outlawed in 1962 and the Service and partners began breeding them on alligator farms and reintroducing them into the wild.

Now: The alligator is considered fully recovered. They are still a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Species profile

American ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus p. principalis)

American ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus p. principalis).

Then: Ivory-billed woodpeckers once inhabited the old-growth forests of the southeastern U.S. As these forests were cleared, the “great chieftain of the woodpecker tribe” as John James Audubon said, declined dramatically in population. By 1939 there may have only been 24 left in the U.S. The last widely-accepted sightings were in the 1940s.

Now: In 2004 and 2005, there were several credible sightings in Arkansas’ Cache River National Wildlife Refuge of one or more large, unusual woodpeckers believed to be ivory-billed. Habitat and public lands are managed using guidelines that take into account the needs of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

Species profile

Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache)

Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache).

Then: Apache trout first appeared in the written record ca. 1870 as “speckled trout” and abounded in hundreds of miles of streams over the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. The fish was first collected by scientists in the U.S. Geographical Survey in 1873, and misidentified as a Colorado River cutthroat trout. By 1967, it had been reduced to a mere 30 miles of stream, and remained undescribed by science.

Now: The trout has gone from anonymity and mistaken identity to the official state fish of Arizona. It was given its scientific and common name in 1972, and now 28 populations swim in 170 miles of streams. Threats have been reduced or eliminated. The Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in concert with the White Mountain Tribe, U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department survey and manage wild populations while Alchesay-Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery cultures the trout.

Species profile

Attwater's greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri)

Attwater's greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri).

Then: The Attwater's prairie-chicken is a subspecies of prairie-chicken endemic to prairies along the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, the bird's population approached 1 million individuals on an estimated 6 million acres of prairie habitat. By 1937, populations had declined to an estimated 8,700 individuals and have continued to decline since. Loss and fragmentation of its coastal prairie ecosystem and associated isolation of subpopulations brought about by agricultural conversion, urban and industrial expansion, overgrazing, and invasion of prairies by woody species have been the ultimate factors responsible for the prairie-chicken's decline.

Now: A captive breeding program was initiated for the Attwater's prairie-chicken in 1992. This program had two primary goals: preserve as much genetic variability as possible, and provide birds for supplementation of remaining populations and the re-establishment of extirpated populations.

Species profile

Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmanii)

Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmanii).

Then: One of the rarest songbirds in North America, the Bachman's warbler was found mainly in the southeastern United States. Most of the habitat destruction that threatened it occurred before the 1967 list.

Now: The last fully accepted sighting was in 1962, although there have been other claimed sightings that were not officially accepted.

Species profile

Big Bend gambusia (Gambusia gaigei)

Big Bend gambusia (Gambusia gaigei).

Then: The Boquillas Crossing Spring in southwestern Texas went dry in 1954, and when it did, one of the two populations of Big Bend gambusia went with it. Today, the species can only be found in two small, man-made ponds within the Big Bend National Park—the smallest geographic range of any known vertebrate. To survive, these fish need a clear, shallow home fed by warm springs teaming with insects like mosquito larvae for food. Though Big Bend gambusia thrived for centuries in this habitat along the Rio Grande, its existence is now threatened by waning spring flows, fluctuating water temperatures, flood events and competition with other fish.

Now: A diverse team of partners is working to ensure the species' future, including biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Austin Ecological Services Field Office and its Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center, the National Park Service, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas-Pan American, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The team has managed to save the Big Bend gambusia a number of times from various narrow escapes, including cold-water spells and predation by non-native fish.

Species profile

Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes)

Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes).

Then: This member of the weasel family was at risk of extinction throughout its entire range on the prairies of North America. The black-footed ferret was thought to be extinct twice in the 20th century due to both human and natural threats, including poisoning, habitat loss, and disease.

Now: In 1981, the last surviving wild population of black-footed ferrets was "rediscovered" in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Since that time, due to recovery efforts of federal, state, tribal, and NGO partners this species has been released into the wild at 28 reintroduction sites across the west. The biggest challenge to recovery is combating deadly disease plague on the landscape.

Species profile

Black toad (or Inyo county toad) (Bufo exsul)

Black toad (or Inyo county toad) (Bufo exsul).

Then: The Black Toad was likely isolated in Deep Springs Valley of eastern Inyo County for roughly 12,000 years. The Black toad has suffered population loss due to tadpole mortality caused by irrigation water diversion and stream trampling due to high cattle density.

Now: The black toad was delisted in 1994 stating that while it may be appropriate to keep this species listed as endangered, there is not enough persuasive data on its biological vulnerability to support the proposed rule.

Species profile

Blue pike (Stizostedion vitreum glaucum)

Blue pike (Stizostedion vitreum glaucum).

Then: Historically, the blue pike was found in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and the Niagara River. Blue pike populations declined in the late 1950's and never recovered, with the last confirmed specimens taken in the 1960s. An over-intensive fishery, which disrupted self-stabilizing mechanisms within the population, led to the extreme fluctuations and ultimate crash of the fishery.

Now: In a 1977 survey, the Blue Pike Recovery Team contacted all Fish and Game agencies in the U.S. in an effort to determine if blue pike existed in their waters. Unfortunately, there were no blue pike reported to exist, and the species was deemed extinct in 1983.

Species profile

Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Crotaphytus wislizenii silus)

Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Crotaphytus wislizenii silus).

Then: In 1967, little was known about the ecology of the San Joaquin Valley-endemic blunt-nosed leopard lizard, with the exception of habitat loss.

Now: In 2017, research has revealed more about the species and how it occurs within its still declining habitat.

Species profile

California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

California condor (Gymnogyps californianus).

Then: California condors have soared the skies since the Pleistocene era but faced the threat of extinction in the 1960s when their population dwindled to the double-digits.

Now: Today, after more than 40 years of recovery efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners, the population has grown from a staggering low of 22 birds in 1982 to more than 400 birds.

Species profile

Cape sable sparrow (now Cape sable seaside sparrow) (Ammospiza mirabilis)

Cape sable sparrow (now Cape sable seaside sparrow) (Ammospiza mirabilis).

Then: The Cape Sable seaside sparrow was originally listed because of its limited distribution and threats to its habitat posed by large-scale conversion of land in South Florida to agricultural uses.

Now: In 1981, there were about 6,600 of these sparrows. In 2016, their numbers were down to about 2,400. The Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are implementing a plan to improve the habitat, which should help the sparrow rebound and survive.

Species profile

Clear Creek gambusia (Gambusia heterochir)

Clear Creek gambusia (Gambusia heterochir).

Then: The Clear Creek gambusia is a small fish that has an extremely restricted range in west-central Texas. Its entire natural range is limited to one small spring-fed stream and the current range is limited to an area of about 0.35 acres, and it's been of conservation concern since its discovery in 1953. Clear Creek gambusia feed on small invertebrates, primarily the Clear Creek amphipod, also endemic only to Clear Creek.

Now: The primary threats to the Clear Creek gambusia are habitat loss from the potential loss of spring flow due to a decline in groundwater levels, hybridization or competition with western mosquitofish initially due to the local habitat modifications, and now the failure of the upper dam to maintain a barrier between spring outflow and downstream habitats. Because the range of the species is limited to one small, isolated location, habitat modification due to a decline in spring flows could result in its extinction.

Species profile

Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) (formerly Colorado squawfish)

Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius).

Then: North America's largest minnow – the olive, gold, and white-colored Colorado pikeminnow – can grow six-feet long and weigh up to 80 pounds. It was a prized food source among Native Americans and early western settlers, and the fish was historically found in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming tributaries connected to the Colorado River. Changes in water flow and nutrients due to irrigation, dam construction, and habitat loss were a major threat, in addition to introduction of non-native fish. By the 1970s, the Colorado pikeminnow was lost from most of its historical range.

Now: Two wild populations are now located in the Upper Colorado River Basin and a separate population is being stocked in the San Juan River Basin. The Colorado pikeminnow currently covers about 25% of its historical range and benefits from better water management practices and control of nonnative fish.

Species profile

Columbian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus)

Columbian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus).

Then: A subspecies of the white-tailed deer, the Columbian white-tailed deer is found only in Washington and Oregon along the Columbia River and in Douglas County. The Columbian white-tailed deer's range originally spanned over 13 million acres with numbers in the tens of thousands. This species was pushed to the brink of extinction due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting; its populations reduced to a mere 1,000 individuals.

Now: Since the two populations were geographically separated, habitat was acquired in Douglas County as well as along the Columbia River to suit the species requirements. As part of the 1983 recovery plan, biologist worked to tag and translocate individuals in order to monitor and maintain three separate, viable subpopulations. In 2003, the Douglas County population size increased to more than 5,000 animals and was delisted due to recovery. The populations along the Columbia River have increased to 750 deer and have been down-listed from endangered to threatened. The protection from hunting provided by of the Endangered Species Act, and the acquisition of protected lands have allowed this species to make tremendous steps towards recovery.

Species profile

Comanche Springs pupfish (Cyprinodon elegan)

Comanche Springs pupfish (Cyprinodon elegan).

Then: The Comanche Springs pupfish can grow up to two inches in length and live up to two years. They feed on algae and small invertebrates. The Comanche Springs pupfish was federally listed as endangered in 1967 primarily due to habitat loss and degradation, competition with non-native species, and hybridization with other fishes. They historically inhabited two areas within the Pecos River drainages in Texas, but are now limited to a small series of springs, their outflows, and system of irrigation canals and ditches connecting Phantom Lake Springs, San Solomon Springs, Griffin Springs and Toya Creek near Balmorhea, Reeves County, Texas.

Now: Conservation actions implemented to help the Comanche Springs pupfish include the moderating of water level fluctuations, conserving important cienega habitat, and creating captive brood stocks and refugia at the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery and Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center. The species continues to deal with the threats of habitat loss from the loss of spring flow due to a decline in groundwater levels, and hybridization or competition with sheepshead minnow. Although the creation of additional habitat has increased the abundance of pupfish in some populations, the species as a whole remains vulnerable.

Species profile

Crested honeycreeper (or Akohekohe) (Palmeria dolei)

Crested honeycreeper (or Akohekohe) (Palmeria dolei).

Then: The boisterous ‘akohekohe is found in Hawaiian rainforests that are at least 4,200 feet in elevation. Habitat degradation and destruction, human exploitation, predation, avian diseases, and competition with introduced species are all factors in the decline of the ‘akohekohe and many other native forest birds.

Now: While the exact population size was not known at the time of listing, we have worked closely with our conservation partners to protect habitat, combat non-native species, and monitor avian diseases. Today, the population is estimated at 3,800 birds, and we continue to monitor the species and identify new ways to help the population increase.

Species profile

Cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus)

Cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus).

Then: In March of 1967 when the Cui ui was officially listed as an endangered species, water diversions had decreased the fish's habitat by more than 80 percent, Winnemucca had evaporated and Pyramid Lake was 80 feet lower than it was in 1900.

Now: The cui-ui population is generally improving in numbers, having attained an estimated population exceeding one million in 1993, thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in analysis of the Truckee River spawning grounds and of the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and EPA in following up on protection measures. The reason the cui-ui remains critically endangered is the recent history of recruitment variation, illustrating that in many years of the 1970s and 1980s there was virtually no recruitment whatsoever due to unsuccessful spawning in an unfavorable water quality and water flow environment of the Truckee River.

Species profile

Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus)

Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus).

Then: The Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel ranged throughout the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia before experiencing a sharp decline in the mid-20th Century due to forest clearing for agriculture and development, short-rotation timber harvest, and over-hunting. With its range reduced more than 90 percent, the squirrel was one of 78 species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967.

Now: Following implementation of many conservation efforts in partnership with states, landowners, and others, (translocation of animals to establish new populations, closing of the targeted hunting season, growth and dispersal of the population, and protection of large forested areas for habitat), the squirrel's range increased from four to 10 counties, and a population of up to 20,000 squirrels now covers 28 percent of the Delmarva Peninsula, primarily in Maryland. Based on extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data available, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Delmarva fox squirrel from the endangered species list in December 2015. Monitoring data continues to support that the species is stable and, in some parts of the peninsula, populations continue to grow.

Species profile

Desert dace (Eremichthys acros)

Then: In 1965, the desert dace population was estimated to be at least 100,000 individuals. In 1977, the population was estimated at 50,000 to 100,000 individuals.

Now: Desert dace currently inhabit eight major springs and approximately three miles of outflow stream habitat in Soldier Meadows, Nevada. These springs and outflow streams are contained within an area of approximately 3,830 acres. All available habitats with permanent flows of suitable temperatures in Soldier Meadows are currently occupied by desert dace. No recent population estimate is available. However, average minnow trap catch rates of up to 22 fish per trap per hour have been documented.

Species profile

Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)

Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis).

Then: The Devil's Hole Pupfish, a species that occurs entirely within a single thermal pool and associated cave, represents an iconic symbol for America's values for conservation, management and Department of Interior. In the 1960s, the aquifer-fed pool was drying due to groundwater pumping for agriculture and threatening the existence of an entire species surviving there for at least 10,000 years.

Now: Today, requirements for adequate water levels are enforced, and because of that it, the species can survive. While the numbers of Devils Hole pupfish have not been strong in recent years, a new facility at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has begun to propagate the species in a near replica of Devils Hole.

Species profile

Dusky seaside sparrow (Ammospiza nigrescens)

Dusky seaside sparrow (Ammospiza nigrescens).

Then: The dusky seaside sparrow was first categorized as a species in 1873, living in the natural salt marshes of Merritt Island and along the St. Johns River in Florida.

Now: The last know sparrow died in 1987, and the subspecies was officially declared extinct in 1990.

Species profile

Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis)

Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis).

Then: The unregulated harvest of the Eskimo curlew caused the species' precipitous decline in the late 19th Century. Development of the species' habitat is thought to have made it impossible for the species to recover. It was listed as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.

Now: Sightings of Eskimo curlew have been rare since 1900 and the bird has not been found in surveys in recent decades. The last record confirmed by physical evidence is a specimen collected in Barbados in 1963. Since that time, 39 potential sightings have occurred in 22 different years; however, the reliability of these sightings is variable and none have been confirmed by physical evidence.

Species profile

Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus)

Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus).

Then: A raptor endemic to central and southern Florida, the kite began to decline as large swaths of its habitat were lost to development and agriculture. When listed, the population was estimated at less than 700 birds.

Now: The current snail kite population is estimated at 2,056. Although there have been encouraging signs recently in increasing population numbers, the snail kite remains endangered.

Species profile

Florida manatee (a subspecies of West Indian manatee) (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Florida manatee (or West Indian manatee) (Trichechus manatus latirostris).

Then: When aerial surveys began in the 1970s, this subspecies of the West Indian manatee, well-known as a symbol of Florida, was estimated at just several hundred.

Now: In 2015, the best estimate for the southeastern United States was 6,350 manatees. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to reclassify the West Indian manatee as threatened, meaning not in immediate danger of extinction. All laws protecting the manatee remain in place, and conservation efforts are ongoing to increase the population.

Species profile

Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi)

Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi).

Then: In the early 1970s, the adult panther population in Florida was estimated to have as few as 12 individuals.

Now: An inter-agency Florida Panther Recovery Team is working to establish two separate populations of at least 240 adults each, as well as habitats to support these populations over the long term. The best current population estimate is 120 to 230 adult and subadult panthers.

Species profile

Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis)

Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis).

Then: Once, one of the most common fish found in the Gila River drainage of Arizona. By 1967, the introduction and spread of non-native predatory and competitive fishes (especially mosquitofish), water impoundment and diversion, water pollution and habitat modification had reduced the species to three known natural populations.

Now: Gila topminnow is making recovery headway. Refuges and reintroduced populations have been established in ponds and streams, including on private ranchlands. Once extirpated from the polluted Santa Cruz River, improved wastewater treatment has spurred the topminnow's return. And pioneering programs to use Gila topminnow to control mosquito larvae show promise in replacing its nemesis—the western mosquitofish.

Species profile

Gila trout (Oncorhynchus gilae)

Gila trout (Oncorhynchus gilae).

Then: In 1967, the Gila trout had only been known to science for 17 years. But this native trout found only in the headwaters of the Gila River watershed had been sought by anglers for quite some time, at least dating to the 1820s. Over-harvest, habitat loss and non-native competing trout depleted the native trout to about five percent of its former range. Gila trout retreated to tiny headwater streams.

Now: With stream-to-stream transfers of Gila trout by the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in concert with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and U.S. Forest Service, as well as plantings of Gila trout from Mora National Fish Hatchery where the brood stock is carefully managed, Gila trout has expanded in range. The nation's only endangered trout was downlisted to threatened in 2006, and open to angling for the first time in 50 years the following year.

Species profile

Greenback cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki stomias)

Greenback cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki stomias).

Then: This colorful, dark-spotted coldwater fish rapidly declined starting in the 1800s due to overharvesting, competition with nonnative fish, and hybridization. Additional threats include human development and population growth, decreased water quality due to chemical contaminants, agriculture, and mining.

Now: DNA analysis by researchers at University of Colorado recently revealed that only a single population of the true greenback cutthroat trout remains—located in Colorado's Bear Creek on Pikes Peak. Prior to this analysis, the greenback cutthroat trout was close to meeting its recovery criteria for delisting. Both state and federal fish hatcheries are now propagating the rare fish for reintroduction into the wild. Reintroductions occurred into two streams during the summer of 2016, and state and federal agencies are currently developing plans for additional reintroductions of the greenback cutthroat trout into streams and lakes on the eastern slope of Colorado.

Species profile

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

Grizzly bear (Ursus horribilis).

Then: Grizzlies historically roamed vast expanses of the American West, from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean. Bear populations dwindled as the west developed, however; between 1922 and 1975, about 84 percent of grizzly populations were extirpated (locally removed) in the lower 48 states.

Now: Grizzlies now reside in five areas in the western United States – including the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – and benefit from coordinated efforts to improve habitat management, research, and education. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the bears may soon be removed from federal protection: the population has grown from as few as 126 bears in 1975 to about 700 bears today and range across over 16,286 square miles of suitable habitat. The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem is also biologically recovered with a population increase from as few as 300 bears in 1975 to about 1,005 bears today.

Species profile

Hawaiian common gallinule (now Hawaiian common moorhen) (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis)

Hawaiian common gallinule (now Hawaiian common moorhen) (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis).

Then: The Hawaiian Common Moorhen, also called the ‘Alae ‘ula, is known as Hawaii’s most secretive marsh bird. It can be found in freshwater marshes, taro patches, irrigation ditches and wet pastures. Because they are such secretive birds, it is difficult to conduct surveys of this species. It is believed that they were common on the main Hawaiian islands in the 1800s but radically declined by the mid-1900s. Surveys in the 1950s and 1960s estimated no more than 57 individuals. The primary causes of decline for this Hawaiian native waterbird has been the loss and degradation of wetland habitat and introduced predators (e.g., rats, dogs, cats, mongoose).

Now: Today, ‘alae ‘ula can be found only on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Counts of Hawaiian common moorhens have been stable, but remain low, with average totals of 287 birds over ten years from 1998 to 2007. State and federal efforts in protecting wetlands, enforcing strict hunting laws, educating, and working with private organizations and landowners play an important role in ensuring the livelihood of the ‘alae ‘ula and many other waterbirds. Private organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, have actively supported wetlands conservation.

Species profile

Hawaiian crow (or Alala) (Corvus hawaiiensis)

Hawaiian crow (or Alala) (Corvus hawaiiensis).

Then: The Hawaiian crow or 'Alala, is endemic to the island of Hawai'i. Formerly common in semi-dry 'Ohi'a forest on the south and west slopes of the Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanos, 'alala began to steadily decline in the late 19th Century. Habitat loss, introduced mammalian predators, and disease caused the species to dwindle until only a single, small population remained on Mauna Loa.

Now: In response to rapid population decline and range contraction, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife brought some 'alala into captivity for breeding in the 1970s. The captive 'alala population has steadily grown from fewer than 20 individuals in the 1990s to more than 115 birds today. While the captive breeding program has been successful, the species continued to decline in the wild. A lone wild pair of 'alala was last seen in 2002. Partners have identified other suitable restoration areas throughout the species’ former range; these sites are also being actively managed in preparation for future releases.

Species profile

Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel (now Hawaiian petrel) 

Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel (now Hawaiian petrel).

Then: The dark-rumped petrel, also known as the Hawaiian petrel or ‘Ua’u, was once abundant on all main Hawaiian islands except Ni’ihau. Unfortunately, the species’ sensitivity to a variety of threats, such as predations, habitat disturbance, light and air pollution, caused it to be listed as endangered in 1967. A ground nesting seabird, the petrel is vulnerable to predation from introduced mammals including mongoose, rats, feral pigs, which have easy access to these birds and their eggs. As urbanization becomes more prevalent, an increasing concern is the Hawaiian petrel’s attraction to light; fledglings will often become disoriented and blinded by manmade light causing collisions.

Now: Recovery benchmarks have been established but not yet achieved to an extent that would allow the Service to delist the species. Programs are in place to decrease the effects of light pollution on fledglings in addition to extensive predator control measures throughout the species’ range.

Species profile

Hawaiian duck (or Koloa) (Anas wyvilliana)

Hawaiian duck (or Koloa) (Anas wyvilliana).

Then: The Hawaiian Duck, or koloa, is endemic to Hawaii and was previously found on all the main Hawaiian islands except Lana's and Kaho'olawe. Their primary habitat is lowland wetlands, river valleys, and mountain streams; the degradation of this valuable habitat aided in its decline. Because their nests are established on the ground, they were highly vulnerable to mongoose, cat, pig, and dog predation; chicks are also at risk to predation by bullfrogs and bass. The largest number of pure koloa can be found on the island of Kaua'i.

Now: The combined efforts of state and federal agencies and other partners have been important in working to protect wetlands, enforce strict hunting laws, and educate the public about the bird. By 1979, 350 koloa had been released on O'ahu and Hawai'i as part of a koloa restoration program. In 2002, biologists estimated the populations to be 2,000 koloa on Kaua'i-Ni'ihau, 300 on O'ahu, 25 on Maui, and 200 on the Big Island.

Species profile

Hawaiian goose (or Nene) (Branta sandvicensis)

Hawaiian goose (or Nene) (Branta sandvicensis).

Then: The Hawaiian goose or Nene, is the state bird of Hawaii and a distant relative of the Canada goose. Fossil records show that Nene used to be abundant, on all the main Hawaiian islands however, due to aggressive hunting, predation and egg collection, the population in 1951 was estimated to be only 30 birds.

Now: Numerous agreements and efforts between federal, state, and private organizations have played an integral role in the road towards recovery. As of 2009, more than 2,700 captive-bred Nene have been released statewide either on public lands or public lands under cooperative agreements with state and federal agencies. Some of the recovery goals are to restore and maintain multiple self-sustaining Nene populations throughout the state, provide sufficient suitable habitat to sustain the minimum target population levels, and to continue predator control.

Species profile

Hawaiian hawk (or Ii) (Buteo solitarius)

Hawaiian hawk (or Ii) (Buteo solitarius).

Then: In addition to being endemic to Hawaii, the Hawaiian hawk or ‘io, is the only hawk native to Hawaii. Conversion of the native forest, upon which this species depends on for nesting, to residential, large-scale agriculture, exotic forestry and industrial areas have been and will continue to have the greatest negative impact on this species.

Now: Due to implementation of recovery actions and conservation efforts, the species is now found throughout the island of Hawai'i and has a stable population, estimated at over 3,000 birds in 2007. Due to the success of this species, it has been proposed for removal from the endangered species list.

Species profile

Humpback chub (Gila cypha)

Humpback chub (Gila cypha).

Then: This odd-looking member of the minnow family – with an olive-colored hump, silvery sides, white underside, and orange-tipped fins –evolved about 3 to 5 million years ago to survive in whitewater habitat. The fish was first recognized by science in 1943 and inhabited the Colorado River and three to four tributaries in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Dam construction significantly altered or eliminated humpback chub habitat, while non-native fish pose a threat due to competition and predation.

Now: The Upper Colorado River Basin now has five self-sustaining populations; the largest is in the Grand Canyon and contains between 6,000 and 10,000 adult humpback chubs. Conservation efforts include water flow management, population monitoring, non-native fish management, and fish passages providing access to critical habitat.

Species profile

Indiana bat (Myotis sodalist)

Indiana bat (Myotis sodalist).

Then: Biologists estimate that at one time, the Indiana bat was possibly one of the most abundant mammals on earth, numbering in the tens of millions. By the time they were listed as endangered in 1967, there were about 880,000 individuals remaining. People disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat, pesticides and other contaminants contributed to the decline of Indiana bats.

Now: Indiana bats had made major strides on their path to recovery. Unfortunately, the new threat of white-nose syndrome has decimated bats around the country, including Indiana bats. Today, there are an estimated 523,000 Indiana bats remaining.

Species profile

Kauai Akialoa (Hemignathus procerus)

Kauai Akialoa (Hemignathus procerus).

Then: The Kaua‘i ‘akialoa, in the honeycreeper family, is believed to live in high elevation native forests on Kaua‘i. This very rare and unique bird uses its long curved bill to feed on the nectar of ‘ohi‘a and lobeliads. It also eats insects from tree barks and from under lichens and mosses. The Kaua‘i ‘akialoa, like other ‘akialoa subspecies, were rare even when they were discovered in the 1700s. According to fossil records, their numbers declined noticeably in the early 1900s. It is believed that because they frequented low elevations, they were subject to introduced diseases found in these environments. The last documented Kaua‘i ‘akialoa was seen in 1965. ‘Akialoa were historically known on all the larger Hawaiian islands. Because these birds are so rare, not much is known about their life history.

Now: After the bird was listed as endangered in 1967, the Service conducted extensive bird surveys on Kaua‘i through 1973. However, we have been able to document any sightings of the Kaua‘i ‘akialoa, and its status remains uncertain.

Species profile

Kauai Nukupuu (Hemignathus lucidus hanapepe)

Kauai Nukupuu (Hemignathus lucidus hanapepe).

Then: The Kauai nukupuu – one of the rarest honeycreepers in all of Hawaii – lives in forests that are 4,000 feet or more in elevation. Land clearing, introduction of alien plants and animals, disease, and fire have all contributed to the drastic decline of this bird. Predators such as rats and cats are also a factor in the decline and continued small populations.

Now: Today, given the difficulty of detecting forest birds in remote mountainous habitats in Hawai`i, the status of the Kauai nukupuu is unknown. The species remains endangered.

Species profile

Kauai Oo (or Oo Aa) (Moho braccatus)

Kauai Oo (or Oo Aa) (Moho braccatus).

Then: As with several other endangered Kaua`i forest birds, the Kaua`i `o`o was once considered a very common species in the lowlands as well as in upland forests. Habitat destruction, habitat degradation from non-native species, and other factors including avian disease are the major causes of O'o' decline.

Now: Given the difficulty of detecting forest birds in remote mountainous habitats in Hawai`i, the species' biological status is uncertain. The species remains endangered.

Species profile

Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)

Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium).

Then: The Key Deer is the smallest subspecies of North American white-tailed deer, and unique to the Florida Keys. Poaching and habitat loss had reduced their numbers to only a few dozen by the 1950s.

Now: Establishment of Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge helped spark a recovery for the subspecies, which peaked at an estimated 800 to 1,000 individuals. However, in 2016 and early 2017 a screwworm infestation killed about 135 deer. It is still listed as endangered.

Species profile

Kirtland's warbler(Setophaga kirtlandii

Kirtland's warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii).

Then: Two main threats caused the Kirtland's warbler to be place on the endangered species list: lack of crucial young jack pine forest habitat and the parasitic brown-headed cowbird. A pair of Kirtland's warblers requires approximately 40 to 50 acres of dense young jack pine forest to nest and raise their young. Without fire, jack pine cones do not completely release their seeds, suppressing forest fires prevents the natural establishment of new jack pine stands and subsequently caused the warbler population to drastically decline to record lows of 167 birds in 1974.

Now: Once biologists were able better understand the Kirtland warbler's life history, and the role fire ecology had to play, they were able to establish and implement plans to recover the species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with state agencies and partners manage habitat for Kirtland's warbler and initiated an aggressive cowbird removal program that continues to this day. Due to many dedicated people, the Kirtland's warbler has met the recovery population goal, 2,365 singing males in 2015. However, as a conservation-reliant species, the continued success of Kirtland's warbler is dependent on annual habitat management and cowbird control.

Species profile

Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis)

Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis).

Then: The Laysan duck is found only on Laysan Island and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the northwestern Hawaiian islands. The Laysan duck was teetering on the brink of extinction with the lowest recorded number of 11 in 1911. Their decline was primarily caused by hunting, habitat loss due to the introduction of rabbits, and a devastating recovery setback in 1993 due to drought conditions.

Now: Most recent population estimates are 600 on Laysan and more than 100 on Midway. These birds are still at high risk of extinction due to severe weather, disease, accidental introductions, and habitat degradation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has successfully controlled alien grass that was overtaking the native bunch grasses used by the duck for nesting material. Overall, populations are growing; additional ecosystem repair and habitat restoration will continue to be required before the Laysan duck can be reintroduced elsewhere in their former range.

Species profile

Laysan finchbill (now the Laysan finch) (Telespyza cantans)

Laysan finchbill (now the Laysan finch) (Telespyza cantans).

Then: The Laysan finch is a member of the honeycreeper family, endemic on Laysan Island. The island of Laysan is part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, thereby providing protection for the species' habitat. Laysan is not a populated island, and access to it is strictly controlled. Biologists and other researchers who are permitted access to the island are carefully inspected to ensure that they do not accidentally introduce seeds, eggs, or insects to Laysan via their clothes or equipment.

Now: We work with our partners to implement strict biological control measures before accessing the island, restore high quality habitat, translocate finches to other nearby islands, control invasive species, and look to address future threats including climate change. In spite of extreme varying fluctuations in population estimates (in part due to spring rainfall patterns), the average population size remains around 10,000 birds.

Species profile

Little Colorado spinedace (Lepidomeda vittata)

Little Colorado spinedace (Lepidomeda vittata).

Then: Historically, the Little Colorado spinedace occupied streams of the Little Colorado River drainage in northeastern Arizona. As a result of stream impoundments, water diversions and introduced competitive and predatory non-native species, by 1967 its distribution was limited to the Little Colorado River and portions of four tributary streams.

Now: Little Colorado spinedace is still in peril. Continued and anticipated demands on water sources of occupied streams and increased habitat deterioration resulting from infestation of non-native fish and crayfish have reduced spinedace populations and significantly reduced habitat. However, there are federal, state, and private landowner efforts to improve habitat that are resulting in the maintenance of stronghold populations.

Species profile

Longjaw cisco (Coregonus alpenae)

Longjaw cisco (Coregonus alpenae).

Then: The longjaw cisco was one of several species of deepwater ciscos utilized by the smoked fish trade and was a very important species in the fishery of the Great Lakes. It was also an important prey species for lake trout and turbot before these fishes were decimated by the sea lamprey. The longjaw cisco has not been seen in Lakes Erie and Huron since the late 1950s.

Now: Despite the considerable effort of the Service's Great Lakes Fishery Laboratory and States around the Great Lakes, there has been no reported collection of this species in U.S. waters since 1967. The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that it was extinct, and removed it from the list of endangered species in 1983.

Species profile

Maryland darter (Etheostoma sellare)

Maryland darter (Etheostoma sellare).

Then: Maryland darter occurred in three streams in Harford County, Maryland. Originally discovered in Swan Creek in 1912, the Maryland darter has not been seen there since and only small numbers of individuals have been found in Gashey's Run and Deer Creek. Due to its scarcity, the Maryland darter was federally listed as endangered in 1967. The Maryland darter prefers rock crevices in clean, well-oxygenated, swiftly flowing parts of streams. Diminished habitat due to the effects of residential development on water quality and possible inbreeding were considered the main threats.

Now: Additional sightings of the Maryland darter in Deer Creek were made irregularly from 1974 through 1988, but none since then. Limited surveys conducted from 1989 through 1996 were unsuccessful. From 2008 through 2012, more intensive survey efforts were conducted using various updated methods. No Maryland darters were found. Based on the negative findings of this very intensive sampling of historical Maryland darter streams and the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam, it is highly unlikely that the Maryland darter still survives.

Species profile

Masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi)

Masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi).

Then: When first described by science in 1895, the masked bobwhite was already a rare bird. Due to overgrazing and habitat loss it was thought to be extinct by the 1920s but was rediscovered in Sonora, Mexico in the 1960s. A year after listing, a captive breeding program at Patuxent Research Refuge (Maryland) staved off extinction.

Now: A refuge population and captive rearing program was established in 1985 at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona, where habitat improvements continue. An additional breeding program in Puebla, Mexico came on line in 2016, and release and research locations at two large private ranches in Mexico provide hope for the future of the masked bobwhite.

Species profile

Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophyrys)

Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophyrys).

Then: The Maui parrotbill occurs only on the island of Maui in a small 19 square mile area of wet and mesic montane forest above 4,000 feet elevation on the northeastern slope of Haleakala Volcano on East Maui. Historically, the Maui parrotbill has been rare, and early island settlers cleared much of its habitat for farming, animal grazing, and timber. The Europeans settlers brought pigs and disease-transmitting mosquitoes to Maui, further hindering the parrotbill’s survival. The forest habitat they depend on is easily damaged by feral pigs.

Now: Today, there are an estimated 500 parrotbills in the wild. Private land owners like The Nature Conservancy and government agencies such as the State of Hawai‘i's Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Park Service are committed to providing protected habitat for native species on Maui. Maui parrotbill habitat today is found in the Hanawi Natural Area Reserve, Haleakala National Park, and Waikamoi Preserve.

Species profile

Mexican duck (Anas diazi)

Mexican duck (Anas diazi).

Then: Concern over the loss of wetland and riverine habitat in the southwestern United States and Mexico and hybridization with mallards resulted in “Mexican duck” being added to the initial list of endangered species.

Now: In 1978, the Service removed the Mexican duck from the list after determining that a stable or increasing population and expanding range was well documented, and that interbreeding with common mallards had been taking place for hundreds if not thousands of years. The level of protection provide by the Endangered Species Act was not warranted; Mexican ducks remain under the effective management of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Species profile

Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea)

Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea).

Then: The Moapa Dace is a thermal endemic fish occurring in the Warm Springs area of the upper Muddy River in southern Nevada. The area has been modified extensively by human development, and was threatened by both groundwater pumping, and the introduction of non-native plants and fishes. Moapa Dace represent unique biodiversity, as they are not closely related to any other fishes (Genus: Moapa) and thus afforded federal protection since 1967.

Now: The Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect their habitat and the thermal springs required for spawning. When populations dropped dangerously low (<500 animals) after the introduction of non-native Tilapia fish, extensive stream renovations have taken place to remove these fish, and restore habitat connectivity to thermal springs required for reproduction. At present (2017), the Moapa Dace number over 1000 animals due to partnerships of federal, state, and private entities of which the streams traverse.

Species profile

Montana westslope cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki)

Montana westslope cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki).

Then: This tri-colored fish – orange, red, and yellow with distinctive black dots along its body – was thought to be threatened throughout its historic range due to population declines attributed to non-native fish, habitat loss, overfishing, and land-use changes.

Now: The fish was delisted in 1970. Further review by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed in 1998 and 2003 that Endangered Species Act protection was unnecessary. Data from 2003, for instance, showed that the fish was still found throughout its historical range with abundant, reproducing, and stable populations. State and federal data from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, the U.S. Forest Service, and others confirmed genetically-pure populations and suitable natural habitat to sustain these unique fish—many of which are found on protected public lands.

Species profile

Nihoa finch (Telespyza ultima)

Nihoa finch (Psittirostra cantans ultima).

Then: The Nihoa finch lives only on the island of Nihoa, 250 miles northwest of O‘ahu. Nihoa is part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge which provides protected habitat for the Nihoa finch. It prefers open and vegetated habitat throughout the island. Nihoa finches build their nests in small holes in rock outcrops 100 to 800 feet above sea level. Nihoa was once inhabited by early Polynesians, but few people since then have even dared to take on the rough seas and sheer cliffs of the remote island. Historical records on the Nihoa finch are very scant, but in 1985, their population was estimated to be 3,200 birds.

Now: Population estimates from the last 30 years range between 900 and 6,600 birds. The 2011 population estimate was 2,800 plus or minus 740 Nihoa finches. The Nihoa finch is threatened by degradation and loss of habitat resulting from invasive alien species such as the gray bird grasshopper, the possible introduction of new diseases to Hawaii and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and especially by the demographic and environmental stochasticity to which small populations are particularly vulnerable.

Species profile

Nihoa millerbird (Acrocephalus kingi)

Nihoa millerbird (Acrocephalus kingi).

Then: The Nihoa millerbird is a tiny land bird measuring approximately 5 inches in length that was discovered on the island of Nihoa in 1923. Another subspecies once occurred on Laysan Island, where it went extinct in the early 20th century after introduced rabbits destroyed the island's vegetation. Thus, the millerbirds on Nihoa were the only millerbirds remaining anywhere on earth.Threats to the millerbird include small population size, limited distribution, introduced plants and animals and fire.

Now: The population size of the Nihoa millerbird has fluctuated between 300 and 700 birds in the last 30 years. The 2009 population estimate was 641 plus or minus 295 Nihoa millerbirds. In 2011 and 2012, a team of dedicated scientists and volunteers undertook a monumental task of capturing and translocating (moving) 50 millerbirds. The birds were moved an incredible 650 miles by sea, from Nihoa to Laysan Island. The release was the result of many years of research and detailed planning by biologists and resource managers, led by a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and American Bird Conservancy.

Species profile

'O'u (Psittirostra psittacea)

'O'u (Psittirostra psittacea).

Then: The ‘o‘u is a large, plump forest bird restricted to the mid-elevation ‘ohi‘a forests of Hawaii and Kauai. This bird feeds on fruits, insects, and buds and blossoms of ‘ohi‘a. Although it was once common on all the main Hawaiian islands, by the late 1970s and early 1980s, only small populations remained on Kaua‘i and the Big Island.

Now: Like other native forestbirds of Hawai‘i, many factors contributed to this bird’s decline: avian diseases, competition with introduced animals for food, elimination or degradation of habitat, predation, collecting, and hunting. Island species are particularly vulnerable to one or more of these threats because of their low numbers and restricted geographical distributions. The status of the 'o'u today is unknown.

Species profile

Owens pupfish (Cyprinodon radiosus)

Owens pupfish (Cyprinodon radiosus).

Then: In the early 1900s, fisheries surveys documented Owens pupfish in habitats throughout the Owens Valley. Owens pupfish occupied most valley-floor aquatic habitats from Fish Slough (approximately 12 miles north of Bishop) south to Lone Pine, a linear distance of approximately 70 miles. By 1942, Owens pupfish were believed extinct until a single population of about 200 individuals was rediscovered in Fish Slough. When listed in 1967, the Owens pupfish was known from this single population.

Now: The total number of Owens pupfish populations has fluctuated over time. Currently, there are five populations in three geographic areas. One factor limiting our ability to recover the species is the introduction of non-native predatory fish into their habitat. This limits the locations in which Owens pupfish can be reintroduced. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working hard on behalf of this species along with California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Species profile

Pahrump poolfish (Empetrichythys latos)

Pahrump poolfish (Empetrichythys latos).

Then: In the 1950s, the Ash Meadows poolfish went extinct, and in the 1960s, two subspecies of Pahrump poolfish went extinct, leaving only the Pahrump poolfish located at Manse Spring in the Pahrump Valley. By the 1950s, Manse Spring began to fail due to groundwater pumping. In the 1960s, Nevada Department of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transplanted the remaining Pahrump Poolfish into four other fishless locations in Nevada. In 1989, they were transplanted into Lake Harriett at the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park to provide a secure refuge.

Now: According to biologists monitoring the tiny fish, one of the last remaining populations of the endangered Pahrump poolfish, is at an alarmingly low number, below 1,000, compared to the 10,000 recorded in 2015. In October 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Nevada Department of Wildlife biologists worked to remove the poolfish and move them to a fish hatchery to protect them from extinction. The interagency team will then drain the water in Lake Harriet and remove any non-native plant and animal species. The goal is to restore the lake to its original condition before reintroducing the Pahrump poolfish back to the wild.

Species profile

Paiute cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki seleniris)

Paiute cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki seleniris).

Then: The Paiute cutthroat trout, whose habitat is only an 11-mile stretch of Silver King Creek along the California-Nevada border, was first listed as endangered in 1967, six years before the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It was later downlisted as threatened under the ESA in 1975. The species has long suffered from a combination of threats including habitat fragmentation, human impacts (primarily unregulated angling and overgrazing), climate change and wildfire. However, the primary reason for their extirpation from Silver King Creek was the introduction of non-native trout into the watershed. Over the past 100 years at least four other species of trout have been introduced into the Paiute's waters including Lahontan cutthroat, rainbow, California golden and brook trout.

Now: The most recent data show that about 800 source Paiutes now occupy about 24 miles of stream in formerly fishless areas of the Silver King Creek drainage and in four out-of-basin watersheds above fish passage barriers. Studies suggest that to ensure long-term persistence of the species, a population of around 2,500 fish would need to be established in at least five miles of habitat. A long-term conservation plan is currently managing the restoration of the species to 100 percent of its historic habitat, which is expected within the next year or two.

Species profile

Palila (Loxioides bailleui)

Palila (Loxioides bailleui).

Then: The palila is a finch-billed honeycreeper with a golden-yellow head and breast, gray back, and gray/white belly. The palila can only be found in 6,000 to 9,000 feet elevations on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. This rare forestbird is very selective because it thrives in specific native ecosystems, relying on green mamane tree pads for 90 percent of its food. Historically, the palila is known only from the island of Hawai‘i. In prehistoric times, palila also occurred at low elevation sites on O‘ahu. Scientists as early as 1944 believed the bird was near extinction. In 1975, there were an estimated 1,614 palila.

Now: Annual surveys, beginning in 1980, have documented an estimated population of 2,000 to 3,000 individuals today, 95 percent of which occur on the southwest slope of Mauna Kea. Scientists continue their work to save this rare forest bird by monitoring its life cycle, fencing critical habitat to keep out feral animals, promoting mamane tree revegetation, and efforts to establish new palila populations in suitable habitat on Mauna Lea and elsewhere on the Big Island.

Species profile

Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata)

Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata).

Then: Abundant in the 15th Century, the Puerto Rican parrot dwindled to a historic low of 13 individuals in 1972. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collected eggs and chicks from the wild and began to breed parrots in captivity with the goal of reintroducing the species to its historic habitat.

Now: Three reintroduced populations exist within protected state and federal forests in Puerto Rico, with a combined population of approximately 160 individuals and 25 breeding pairs in the wild. In captivity, there are an additional 337 parrots (with 60 breeding pairs), securing the species' existence for years to come.

Species profile

Red wolf (Canis niger)

Red wolf (Canis niger).

Then: Red wolves once roamed throughout the eastern and south-central United States. By the 1970s, habitat loss and predator control programs reduced these populations to a small area along the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

Now: Those remaining wolves were captured and bred in captivity, and are now the founders of all red wolves alive today. The Service reintroduced them into the wild in eastern North Carolina, as an experimental population. Red Wolf Recovery Program continues to work towards species recovery using the knowledge gained from the experimental wild population and the still vitally important captive population maintained by over 40 separate partnering facilities.

Species profile

San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)

San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia.

Then: By 1967, most San Francisco garter snake habitat had been destroyed by development activities.

Now: As of 2017, extensive areas of remaining habitat have been acquired and protected as open space for use in recreation and conservation.

Species profile

San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)

San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica).

Then:The San Joaquin kit fox is the smallest fox in North America, with an average body length of 20 inches and weight of about 5 pounds. It is a member of the Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves and foxes. In 1967, the San Joaquin kit fox population was in decline throughout its range.

Now: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to conserve species habitat and funding research to counter continued declines in population size and species range.

Species profile

Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum)

Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum).

Then: The salamander was originally discovered in the 1950s by biologists near an undisturbed ephemeral pond – known as Valencia Lagoon – in Aptos, California. In 1956, the species was found breeding at a second location – Ellicott Pond – just a few miles south. In Monterey County, the species lives in a few isolated habitats near the Elkhorn Slough. Since the 1950s, biologists have documented 24 breeding locations between the two coastal counties, greatly improving our understanding of the species range.

Now: Though still extremely limited in population size, the species is more secure than just being limited to the two original. In the last five years, with support from partners, the Service has made significant strides in improving native habitat for the salamander on both private and public lands, and is actively pursuing efforts to link habitats across roads and major highways in the area to better connect breeding sites.

Species profile

Small Kauai thrush (or Puaiohi) (Phaeornia pulmeri)

Small Kauai thrush (or Puaiohi) (Phaeornia pulmeri).

Then: The small Kaua’I thrush or puaiohi is a very secretive bird, and prefers fern and sedge covered stream banks in the ‘ohi‘a forest in the eastern Alaka‘i Swamp of Hawaii. The puaiohi was considered a rare bird as early as the 1900s. From the period of 1968-1973, only 177 of this forest bird were recorded. Habitat destruction, avian disease, habitat damage caused by goats and pigs, predation by cats and rats, and competition from alien plants have, and still do, pose serious threats to their survival.

Now: In 1999, 14 captively bred puaiohi were released into the Alaka‘i Wilderness Preserve by The Peregrine Fund. Within two months, most of these young birds had already found a mate, and several were building nests. This species became the first captively bred Hawaiian forest bird species to successfully hatch chicks in the wild when two chicks hatched in April 1999. Captive releases have continued and nearly 200 captive-reared puaiohi have been released. Scientists believe that between 300 to 500 puaiohi inhabit the Alaka‘i Swamp today.

Species profile

Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis)

Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis).

Then: Historically, Sonoran pronghorn occurred throughout most of southwestern Arizona, northwestern Sonora, and portions of southeastern California and northeastern Baja California, Mexico. However, by the 1960s, only an estimated 50 animals in three subpopulations remained after much of its habitat was lost to development. Barriers to movement caused by roads, canals, train tracks, and fences also limited Sonoran pronghorn access to vital and limited forage in their arid desert environment.

Now: Spurred by devastating drought that left only 21 Sonoran pronghorn in the United States population in 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and recovery partners established additional water sources, forage enhancements and a semi-captive breeding enclosure on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, an experimental population has been established on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Today there are five subpopulations, including over 800 animals in Mexico and approaching 400 animals in the United States.

Species profile

Southern bald eagle (now the bald eagle) (Haliaeetus t. leucocephalus)

Southern bald eagle (now the bald eagle) (Haliaeetus t. leucocephalus).

Then: Some estimates say there were as many 500,000 eagles in the lower 48 states in the 18th century. Habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source, largely as a consequence of DDT, decimated the bald eagle population, and it hit an all-time low of 487 breeding pairs in 1963.

Now: Habitat protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the federal government's banning of DDT, and conservation actions taken by the American public have helped bald eagles make a remarkable recovery. By 2007, the bald eagle population rebounded to nearly 10,000 breeding pairs and they were removed from the federal list of endangered species.

Species profile

Texas blind salamander (Typhlomolge rathbuni)

Texas blind salamander (Typhlomolge rathbuni).

Then: The Texas blind salamander was first discovered in 1895 from what is now Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, after being flushed from a recently drilled artesian well. The salamander has since been discovered from additional sites but remains restricted to Hays County, Texas and is endemic to a portion of Texas' Edwards Aquifer, one of the most unique and biodiverse aquifers in the world. Given its rarity, the Texas blind salamander was one of the first species to gain federal protection.

Now: In 2006, the Service invited interested parties to discuss approaches to the challenges of aquifer management to balance the region's water needs with those of listed species. The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) was created to evaluate the needs of the area's growing population, requirements of listed species, and the potential effects of drought. Stakeholders built consensus around a plan in which all participants agreed to contribute water to protect the springs during drought, and crafted a Habitat Conservation Plan in 2013 to help secure the regional economy dependent upon the waters of the Edwards Aquifer while achieving recovery goals for listed species. The EARIP and the Service are committed to working together to ensure that the springs of the Edwards Aquifer continue to flow, and that species like the Texas blind salamander survive for generations to come.

Species profile

Timber Wolf (now Gray Wolf ) (Canis lupus lycaon)

Timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon).

Then: By 1967, the Timber wolf, now referred to as the gray wolf, was mostly extirpated (removed) throughout its range, and only remained in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Plagued by intensive eradication efforts and declining numbers of prey, wolves declined drastically in the western Great Lakes area.

Now: The wolf's comeback nationwide is due to its listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which provided protection from unregulated killing and resulted in increased scientific research, along with reintroduction and management programs, and education efforts that increased public understanding of wolf biology and behavior. Today, more than 5,000 gray wolves now live in the lower 48 states, with more than 3,700 of those in the Great Lakes area.

Species profile

Tule white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons gambelli)

Tule white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons gambelli).

Then: Tule white-fronted geese are one of two subspecies of greater white-fronted geese that breed in Alaska and winter primarily in California. Tule white-fronted geese breed in the Cook Inlet and associated drainages in Alaska though the breeding range has not been fully defined and additional nesting areas likely exist. Satellite radio marking birds has been used in recent years to help identify breeding, migration and wintering areas.

Now: Tule white-fronted geese are one of the least abundant of any goose subspecies, and obtaining accurate estimates of population size has proven quite challenging. The breeding grounds for the Tule goose population were only partially delineated in the late 1990s, and aerial surveys have not been feasible because detection was very poor in boreal forest and muskeg habitats.

Species profile

Whooping crane (Grus americana)

Whooping crane (Grus americana).

Then: In the mid-to-late 1960s the whooping crane population had been reduced to only 50 whooping cranes as a result of habitat loss and hunting. Forty-three cranes wintered at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and seven were held in captivity. Given its dire situation, the whooping crane was one of the first species listed as endangered in 1967.

Now: Through the hard work and dedication of many, the whooping crane population is rebounding. The Service estimated 329 wild whooping cranes graced the wintering grounds on and around Aransas NWR in the winter of 2015-2016. There are 103 individuals in the Eastern Migratory Population, 59 in Louisiana, 14 in Florida and 201 in numerous captive facilities in the United States and Canada for a total of about 700 whooping cranes. The wild population that winters at Aransas grows about four percent each year.

Species profile

Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis)

Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis).

Then: Yuma clapper rails are secretive birds, more often heard than seen. When first listed, this rail was mostly limited to the freshwater marshes of the Colorado River Delta and Cienega de Santa Clair in Mexico—a habitat area greatly altered by upstream dams and changes to water delivery.

Now: The Yuma clapper rail's (now known as the Yuma Ridgeways rail) range has expanded substantially northward along the Colorado River, Salton Sea and Gila River drainages. This expansion appears to be due to developing marshlands in new backwaters along the Colorado River and its reservoirs, and habitat creation under the Lower Colorado River Multispecies Conservation Plan and other conservation initiatives.

Species profile

Last updated: June 19, 2017