Threatened & Endangered Species

Left: NE Cottontail - Patrick Comins. Right: Puritan tiger beetle - USFWS.

Nine federally listed endangered, threatened, or candidate species occur within the Connecticut River watershed. Seven of these species are known to occur within Refuge Divisions or the Connecticut River and its tributaries.


The U.S Fish & Wildlife Service leads the Federal effort to protect and restore animals and plants that are in danger of extinction, both in the United States and worldwide. Using the best scientific evidence available, Service biologists identify species that appear to be endangered or threatened. After review, species may be placed on the Interior Department’s official “List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.” Service biologists, along with other partners, then develop recovery plans for the species that include research, habitat preservation and management, and other recovery activities.

Canada lynx —Threatened

Canada lynx are a large tawny colored cat characterized by their ear tufts, long hind legs and large snowshoe-like feet. They have been confirmed breeding in northeastern Vermont. Lynx occur in boreal forest habitats that support their principal prey, snowshoe hare, such as those found in the refuge’s Nulhegan, Pondicherry, and Blueberry Swamp Divisions.

Dwarf wedgemussel – Endangered

This freshwater mussel is an inhabitant of muddy sand, and sand or gravel bottoms of rivers and streams. This mussel once occurred along much of the Connecticut River and many of its tributaries, but is no longer found in the mainstem in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The species was rediscovered in the upper Connecticut River in 1995, including 68 sites in the mainstem and 77 sites in tributaries.

Puritan tiger beetle – Threatened

The Puritan tiger beetle is an inhabitant of sandy riverine beaches along the Connecticut River and sandy bluffs along Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The Puritan tiger beetle has declined along the Connecticut River due to flooding and disturbance of its shoreline habitat from dam construction, riverbank stabilization, and human recreational activities. Of 11 known historic populations along the Connecticut River, only two remain.

Northeastern bulrush – Endangered

The Northeastern bulrush is a leafy, tufted, perennial sedge that ranges from Maryland and Virginia to New England. It is found growing on the edges of seasonal pools, wet depressions, beaver ponds, and wetlands that have variable water levels. Habitat loss and pollution were key factors in the decline of this bulrush. There are thirty two known populations of this bulrush found within the Connecticut River watershed and the Putney Mountain Unit was acquired to protect one such population.

Shortnose sturgeon- Endangered

The shortnose sturgeon is a primitive looking fish with five rows of bony plates covering their body and a mouth located on the underside of their head. The Connecticut River shortnose sturgeon were thought to be extirpated until an isolated population was located between the Turners Falls Dam and Holyoke Dam in Massachusetts. Individuals are found below the Holyoke Dam, but they are isolated from upstream breeding habitat. The primary impediment to sturgeon recovery is the presence of dams that obstruct migration and modify the historic river flows that cued the fish to spawning at appropriate times and places.