Maine Field Office - Ecological Services
Northeast Region

Endangered and Threatened Species

The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Nixon on December 28, 1973. The ESA protects critically imperiled plant and animal species from extinction and commits federal agencies to promote their conservation with a goal of their recovery.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) jointly administer the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The goal of the Endangered Species Program is to promote the conservation and recovery of federally-listed endangered and threatened species and critical habitat. The Services accomplish this through:

  • Identifying species that need protection. The Services are responsible for listing, reclassifying and delisting species under the ESA, based on an assessment of threats to the species and their habitats.
  • Providing biological and regulatory technical assistance to Federal agencies through section 7 consultation.
  • Providing biological and regulatory technical assistance to non-Federal entities (individuals, organizations, companies, and agencies) regarding activities that may affect listed species.
  • Implementing and coordinating recoveryactivities for listed species.
  • Enforcing protections for federally-listed species.
  • Providing grants and technical assistance to States to assist with their endangered species conservation efforts.
  • Working in partnership with people that have an interest in the conservation and recovery of federally-listed species.

Species Lists and Information for Project Reviews in Maine

This online resource will help you determine if your property may contain habitat for Federally listed species, provide directions on how to access online information on habitat locations, and how to download a species list and form letter which you can attach to the list information.  For locations where no species are present, the form letter will document that you searched for the information and found that none were present at that time.  Additional information on project reviews for impacts to the listed species found in the State of Maine isl also provided. 


Section 4 outlines requirements for listing species, designating critical habitat and recovery.

Section 7 (a)(1) requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of this Act by carrying out programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species.

Section 7 (a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any federally listed threatened or endangered species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. In the event that a Federal agency determines that its action “may affect” a listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat, the agency is required to consult with the Service regarding the degree of impact and measures available to avoid or minimize the adverse effects.

Section 9 makes it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to “take” any federally listed endangered or threatened species of fish or wildlife without a special exemption. “Person” is defined under the ESA to include individuals, corporations, partnerships, trusts, associations, or any other private entity; local, state, and Federal agencies; or any other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Under the ESA, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm is further defined to include significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavior patterns such as breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Harass is defined as actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavior patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

Section 10 establishes an incidental take permit provision for private entities that includes the development of habitat conservation plans. This provision authorizes the Service, under some circumstances, to permit the taking of federally listed fish and wildlife if such taking is “incidental to, and not the purpose of carrying out otherwise lawful activities.” This process is also intended to be used to reduce conflicts between listed species and private development and to provide a framework that would encourage “creative partnerships” between the private sector and local, state, and Federal agencies in the interest of endangered and threatened species and habitat conservation. When approved by the Service, this regulatory procedure results in the issuance of a permit authorizing incidental take, provided such take is mitigated by appropriate conservation measures for habitat maintenance, enhancement, and protection, coincident with development. Another type of section 10 permit is a recovery permit which allows for the direct take of listed species for scientific research and recovery actions.

Critical habitat:

Critical habitat is federally-designated and carries legal implications under the Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat has only been designated in Maine for the Canada lynx and Atlantic salmon. However, the survival and recovery of all listed species in Maine depends on the conservation of their habitat.

The Service reviews projects that may affect federally designated critical habitat, just as it reviews projects that may affect federally listed species. While both Federal and non-Federal actions that may affect listed species require consultation with the Service, only Federal actions that may affect federally designated critical habitat requires consultation with the Service. However, it is important to clarify that any Federal nexus (Federal involvement) is sufficient to Federalize a proposed action. Some examples of actions with a Federal nexus are as follows:

  • actions on Federal land
  • actions that require a Federal permit (such as a wetland permit)
  • actions that require a Federal license
  • actions using Federal funds


An “endangered” species is added to the list when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant proportion of its range. A “threatened” species is added to the list when it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. The Service also maintains a list of “candidate” species. These are species for which there is enough information to warrant proposing them for listing but that have not yet been proposed because of higher listing priorities. "critical habitat" has been formally designated for certain species. Critical habitats are areas that are essential to the conservation of listed species. For a complete list of definitions see Section 3 of the ESA.


The current list of federally endangered and threatened species in any state can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species website. The federally endangered and threatened species list for Maine can be found here. Maine species list

Resources and Information for Maine

Atlantic salmon

Canada lynx

Eastern cougar

Eastern/gray wolf

Eastern prairie-fringed orchid

Furbish's lousewort

New England cottontail rabbit

Piping plover

Roseate tern

Small whorled pogonia

The State of Maine also has an endangered species programs. For more information on endangered fresh water inland fish and wildlife, contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. For more information on endangered plants, contact the Maine Natural Areas Program. For more information on endangered marine species, contact the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Bald Eagle Delisting - The bald eagle was removed from the federal list in 2007. For additional information on bald eagles, refer to Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act under Conservation Planning Assistance.

For more information, contact:

Mark McCollough
306 Hatchery Way
East Orland, Maine 04431
Office phone: (207) 902-1570
Cell phone: (207) 944-5709


Last updated: September 1, 2020
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