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A small green succulent plant growing outo the sand on a beach.
Information icon Seabeach amaranth at Cape Romain NWR. Photo by Jennifer Koches, USFWS.

Endangered species

When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct.

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Service has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and anadromous fish such as sturgeon and salmon.

Under the ESA, species may be listed as either 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. All plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened.

Species Status Assessments (SSA)

The Species Status Assessment (SSA) framework is a rigorous scientific assessment developed by the Service. It is designed to “follow the species” in the sense that the information on a species’ biological status is available for conservation use, providing a single source for all ESA decisions such as listings, consultations, grant allocations, permitting, habitat conservation partnerships, and recovery planning. This framework has resulted in better assessments, improved and more transparent and defensible decision making, and clearer and more concise documents.

South Carolina’s endangered, threatened and at-risk (under review) species

Download the South Carolina species list by county.

Please refer to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website for information on the following species under their jurisdiction: Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, fin whale, humpback whale, North Atlantic right whale, sei whale, and sperm whale.

Guidance on Determining Need for Incidental Take Permit under ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B)

Not sure whether or not you need an Incidental Take Permit (ITP)? Download the questionnaire or decision tree to learn more.


Whitney Beisler, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 228
Lead for eastern black rail (proposed for listing October 2018) and Kirtland’s warbler.

Melissa Chaplin, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 217
Lead for black-capped petrel (proposed for listing October 2018), piping plover, red knot, green sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, and loggerhead sea turtle.

Melanie Olds, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 205
Lead for West Indian manatee; Learn more about manatees, including tips on minimizing human interactions with the species.

April Punsalan, Botanist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 218
Lead for American chaffseed, black spored quillwort, bunched arrowhead, Canby’s dropwort, dwarf-flowered heartleaf, harperella, little amphianthus, Miccosukee gooseberry, Michaux’s sumac, mountain sweet pitcher plant, persistent trillium, pondberry, relict trillium, rock gnome lichen, rough-leaved loosestrife, Schweinitz’s sunflower, seabeach amaranth, small-whorled pogonia, smooth coneflower, swamp pink, white fringeless orchid, and white irisette.

Paula Sisson, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 226
Lead for Bachman’s warbler, red-cockaded woodpecker, and frosted flatwoods salamander.

Morgan Wolf, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (843) 727-4707 ext. 219
Lead for wood stork, Atlantic pigtoe (proposed for listing October 2018), Carolina heelsplitter, and northern long-eared bat.

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