Featured Species

Before a plant or animal species can receive protection under the Endangered Species Act Of 1973 (As Amended), it must first be placed on the federal list of endangered or threatened species. Our listing program follows a strict legal process to determine whether to list a species, depending on the degree of threat it faces. An endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. The Service also maintains a list of plant and animals native to the United States that are candidates for proposed or possible addition to the Federal list. All of the Service's actions, from proposals, to listings, to removals (delisting), are announced through the Federal Register. The purpose of the Act is to provide a way to conserve and protect the ecosystems upon which fish, wildlife and plants rely. This Act, and its implementing regulations, 50 CFR, Part 17, gives the Secretary of the Interior the authority to determine if a species is threatened or endangered because of the following factors:

  • The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • Over utilization 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.

In addition to listing species and subspecies, the Endangered Species Act allows the listing of Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of vertebrate species (i.e., animals with backbones: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians). A DPS is a portion of a species' or subspecies' population or range. The DPS is generally described geographically, such as "all members of XYZ species that occur north of 40E north latitude." This policy contains the criteria that must be met for a portion of a species' population to be designated as a DPS.


Small silver-colored fish in water

White River spinedace are endemic to the White River system in Nye and White Pine Counties, Nevada.  The White River spinedace is a member of the cyprinid tribe Plagopterini known only from the lower Colorado River Basin.  The Plagopterini tribe of cyprinid fishes includes the...

FWS Focus
Small fish in water

The Virgin River chub is a silvery, medium-sized minnow that averages about 20 centimeters (cm) or 8 inches in total length, but can grow to a length of 45 cm (18 inches). The Virgin River chub can be distinguished from G. robusta by the number of rays (9 to 10) in the dorsal, anal, and pelvic...

FWS Focus
Ute ladies'-tresses plant with white flowers in a grassy environment

Ute ladies'-tresses is a perennial herb with erect, glandular-pubescent stems 12-60 cm tall arising from tuberous-thickened roots. Basal leaves are narrowly linear, up to 1 cm wide and 28 cm long, and persist at the time of flowering. Leaves become progressively smaller up the stem and are...

FWS Focus
Desert Tortoise walking in the desert

The Mojave desert tortoise is a large, herbivorous (plant-eating) reptile that occurs in the Mojave Desert north and west of the Colorado River in southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern California, and northwestern Arizona in the United States. The desert tortoise is one of most...

FWS Focus