Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America

Endangered and Threatened species of North Carolina

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects species of plants and animals that are in danger of extinction. The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The USFWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and sea turtles.

The ESA allows the USFWS and the NMFS to list species of plants and animals as threatened or endangered. "Endangered" means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. "Threatened" means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. In addition, candidate species are species for which the agencies have enough information to warrant proposing them for listing, but are precluded from doing so by higher listing priorities. For additional information about the ESA, please see Endangered Species Act Basics.

Currently, 61 federally threatened and endangered species are known to occur in North Carolina. Fact sheets for each protected species are available by clicking on the name of the species below. Links to additional information about each species are located at the bottom of individual fact sheets.

The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP), as part of its mission to preserve the biological diversity of North Carolina, maintains an inventory of all known locations of rare taxa and serves as the state's data source of locality information of natural areas and rare and federally and state listed plant and animal species. Using NCNHP data, the USFWS has developed a County List of federally protected species by each North Carolina county.

Since most of our federally threatened and endangered plants are not readily identifiable throughout the year, surveys must be conducted during the time of year when the species are recognizable by their flowers and/or vegetative characters. Please see the Optimal Survey Windows for Plants document for additional information about conducting surveys for listed plant species.

Survey protocols for Red cockaded Woodpeckers can be found in the revised Recovery Plan.

Since freshwater mussels and fish require removal from the water and extensive handling, Endangered Species Recovery Permits are required to conduct surveys for these species. Please contact the Raleigh Field Office for additional information.

For additional information about the endangered species consultation process and instructions on preparing a biological assessment or biological evaluation, please see our Endangered Species Consultation page.

Listed species believed to or known to occur in North Carolina Source: Environmental Conservation Online System.

Mammals Mussels and Snails
Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel - E

Appalachian Elktoe - E

Fin Whale - E Carolina Heelsplitter - E
Gray Bat - E Cumberland Bean Pearlymussel - E
Humpback Whale - E Dwarf Wedgemussel - E
Indiana Bat - E James Spinymussel - E
Northern Long-eared Bat (NLEB) - T, NC-4(d) Littlewing Pearlymussel - E
Red Wolf - E Noonday Globe - T
Right Whale - E Tar River Spinymussel - E
Sei Whale - E Yellow Lance - T
Sperm Whale - E Atlantic Pigtoe - Proposed
Virginia Big-eared Bat - E  
West Indian Manatee -T  Avoiding Impacts,  NC Manatee Guidelines Plants
  American Chaffseed - E
Birds Blue Ridge Goldenrod - T
Black - capped petrel - Proposed Bunched Arrowhead - E
Eastern black rail - Proposed Canby's Dropwort - E
Eastern black rail- At Risk Cooley's Meadowrue - E
Black-capped petrel- At Risk Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf - T
Piping Plover - T and E Golden Sedge - E
Red-cockaded Woodpecker - E Green Pitcher Plant - E
Roseate tern - E Harperella - E
Rufa red knot - T Heller's Blazing Star - T
Wood stork - T Michaux's Sumac - E
Mountain Golden Heather - T
Reptiles and Amphibians Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant - E
Pondberry - E
Green turtle - T Roan Mountain Bluet - E
Hawksbill turtle - E Rock Gnome Lichen - E
Kemp's Ridley turtle - E Rough-leaf Loosestrife - E
Leatherback turtle - E Schweinitz's Sunflower - E
Loggerhead turtle - T Seabeach Amaranth - T
Sensitive Joint-vetch - T
Fish Small-anthered Bittercress - E
Small Whorled Pogonia - T
Cape Fear Shiner - E Smooth Coneflower - E
Roanoke Logperch - E Spreading Avens - E
Shortnose Sturgeon - E Swamp Pink - T
Spotfin Chub - T Virginia Spiraea - T
Waccamaw Silverside - T White Irisette - E
Atlantic Sturgeon - E  
Insects and Spiders
Saint Francis' Satyr Butterfly - E
Spruce-fir Moss Spider - E

At-Risk Species Conservation

Species that are proposed for listing, candidates for listing, and/or petitioned for listing at At-Risk. They are under the authority of state wildlife agencies, thus conservation of these species is led by the states.The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides a variety of ways for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners to conserve and recover species while reducing regulatory burden. Learn more about At-Risk Species here. Use our At-Risk Species Finder to discover information about At-Risk species status and range.

When determining whether or not a species requires the protection of the ESA, 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.




Last Updated: November 5, 2019