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Recovering threatened and endangered species

The goal of the U.S. FIsh and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to conserve plants and animals listed as endangered or threatened, as well as the ecosystems upon which they depend. The Service also works to improve the status of those species to the point that protection under the ESA is no longer necessary. This process is called recovery.

Recovering any species is a challenge that takes time. In some cases we, are attempting to combat population declines more than 200 years in the making.

Achieving recovery for threatened and endangered species requires cooperative conservation efforts. The collaborative efforts of the Service and its many partners, including states, tribes, not-for-profit organizations, universities, researchers, private individuals, and other federal agencies, are critical to the recovery of listed species.

Two fluffy wood stork chicks in a nest at the top of a tree
Two wood stork chicks at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Photo by Mary Ellen Urbanski

Stories

  1. Water topples over a 25ft tall dam Dec 6, 2018 | 4 minute read

    North Carolina dam removal helps Rocky River and the endangered fish that lives there

  2. Two large white birds flying low over a wetland coming in for a landing with a Service biologist in the foreground Nov 30, 2018 | 2 minute read

    “Journey of the Whooping Crane” follows efforts to save a rare, endangered bird

  3. An outstretched hand holding a dozen mussels marked with id numbers Sep 28, 2018 | 2 minute read

    Private landowners step up to save the Carolina Heelsplitter

  4. A man with a beard looks closely at an insect with a magnifying glass Sep 18, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Protecting the rare

  5. A biologist holds a long snake in front of a crowd of interns. Jun 8, 2018 | 1 minute read

    Federal agencies helping landowners rebuild habitat for Louisiana pinesnake

  6. A deep black snake coiled up on sandy soil with young longleaf pine seedlings in the background May 25, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Snakes in a bag

  7. A woman wearing a warm hat preparing to plant a tiny spruce tree seedling. May 24, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Women lead the effort on Appalachian mountain-top forests

  8. A small fish covered in small, colorful polka dots of red and black May 16, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Partners for Fish and Wildlife helps Mississippi landowners, threatened fish

  9. A creek runs through a forest. Apr 12, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Stalking the rare painted rocksnail

  10. A young hunter crouches while holding a rife in the woods. Apr 9, 2018 | 10 minute read

    Hunting the wild hog

  11. A mussel with fringe around its opening partially burried in the sand on the river bottom. Mar 22, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Endangered mussel making a comeback in the French Broad River

  12. Buildings with boarded up doors and windows designed to mimic the Middle East. Mar 22, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Marines and woodpeckers share the high ground

  13. A small woodpecker perched on a pine tree. Feb 14, 2018 | 5 minute read

    Steward of the land

  14. A hand holding eight endangered Cumberland bean mussels. Jan 30, 2018 | 1 minute read

    2017 mussel harvest in Kentucky is a success

  15. A man standing in front of a large pine tree trunk Jan 29, 2018 | 8 minute read

    Safe harbor for woodpeckers

  16. A tiny white and brown mouse held by a biologist. Dec 13, 2017 | 7 minute read

    The mouse that roared

  17. A small green plant growing in a sand dune with bright red/pink stems. Dec 7, 2017 | 6 minute read

    From Massachusetts to South Carolina, recovering seabeach amaranth

  18. A woodpecker perched on a tree with a bug in its mouth Nov 20, 2017 | 9 minute read

    The woodpecker’s journey

  19. A tiny loggerhead hatchling hustles towards the ocean. Nov 6, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Moonlighting in Alabama

  20. Three green parrots standing on a perch in a cage. Oct 17, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Soaring past danger

  21. A gentleman with a grey mustache standing next to a mature longleaf pine tree. Aug 9, 2017 | 8 minute read

    Growing trees, saving species

  22. Jul 19, 2017 | 1 minute read

    Wolf Creek continues mussel culture

  23. Fuzzy yellow and purple flowers emerging from a green grass-like stalk. Jun 27, 2017 | 2 minute read

    Recovery progress for the American chaffseed

  24. A dozen dark mussels in a propagation tank with sandy substrate. Jun 12, 2017 | 7 minute read

    Musseling back from near extinction

  25. A bucket full of yellow/brown mussels. Jun 5, 2017 | 3 minute read

    There was a mussel called fatmucket...

  26. A bright green parrot with red markings on its face and blue flight feathers. Nov 30, 2016 | 5 minute read

    A new beginning: Puerto Rican parrots reintroduced into Maricao Commonwealth Forest

  27. May 5, 2016 | 1 minute read

    Conserving imperiled aquatic species in the Upper Tennessee River Basin

  28. Biologist Maria Davidson wearing camoflage holding a Louisiana black bear cub Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    Bear biologist Maria Davidson educates people, relocates wayward bears

  29. Two biologists check on the health of a sedated Louisiana black bear Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    David Soileau: bringing the Louisiana black bear back from the brink

  30. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    Debbie Fuller: working hard at work worth doing

  31. Conservationists from the Natural Resources Conservation Service gather around the hood of a truck to investigate paperwork Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    Easement program a win-win for landowners and black bears

  32. Mar 10, 2016 | 3 minute read

    Keith Weaver: from tagging, tracking and naming, he knows the bears of the Tensas River Basin

  33. A black bear in a field locks eyes with the camera as it eats grassy vegetation. Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    Louisiana black bear’s survival depends on people, says biologist

  34. A biologist taking a health assessment for a tranquilized bear Mar 10, 2016 | 2 minute read

    U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services plays key role in Louisiana black bear recovery

  35. Aug 23, 2014 | 1 minute read

    Enduring investments

Press Releases

  1. A tall, grey bird with red markings on its face laying low in the flooded grass Dec 17, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes reintroduced to the wild

  2. An inquisitive red wolf looks into the distance. Nov 29, 2018 | 1 minute read

    Service extends red wolf review in North Carolina

  3. A small semi-transluscent catfish in an aquarium. Sep 19, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Recovery plan for endangered Chucky madtom available

  4. A patterned black and gray snake blends in to the strewn, dark pine needles on the forest floor. Sep 18, 2018 | 1 minute read

    Notice of Availability of a draft environmental assessment for a proposed rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act for the Louisiana pinesnake

  5. Aug 16, 2018 | 2 minute read

    Draft recovery plan for endangered Neosho mucket available

  6. A male red wolf looks on as two pups play Aug 10, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Service reopens comment period on new management rule for red wolves in North Carolina

  7. A small woodpecker perched on a pine tree. Aug 3, 2018 | 7 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts five-year status reviews of 42 southeastern species

  8. A tiny yellow/orange frog with big round eyes. Jul 6, 2018 | 2 minute read

    Draft recovery plan for endangered Puerto Rican frog available

  9. A light brown fish with bright orange markings on the tops of its fins. Jul 5, 2018 | 2 minute read

    Recovery plan available for endangered yellowcheek darter

  10. A red wolf in a full run on a grassy field. Jun 27, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Service proposes new management rule for non-essential, experimental population of red wolves in North Carolina

  11. Red-cockaded woodpecker flying from its nest. May 30, 2018 | 4 minute read

    Base recognized for conservation work

  12. Two butterflies with blue and orange spots perched on a bright red flower covered in pollen. May 18, 2018 | 6 minute read

    Endangered Species Day: Congratulations to the 2017 Recovery Champions for the Southeast Region

  13. A reddish grey wolf with yellow eyes. Apr 24, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Status review shows the red wolf remains endangered

  14. A small, straw-yellow colored fish with brown markings Apr 2, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Cumberland darter draft recovery plan available for review

  15. A group of about a dozen small triangular shellfish in shallow water. Apr 2, 2018 | 3 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the yellow lance mussel as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

  16. A tiny yellow/orange frog with big round eyes. Mar 9, 2018 | 3 minute read

    Fish and Wildlife Service conducts five-year status reviews of eight southeastern species

  17. Biologists wearing white gowns head-to-toe walking through nets in a marsh holding whooping cranes. Mar 7, 2018 | 2 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers changes to protect endangered whooping cranes

  18. A large limestone island emerges from the sea covered in green vegetation. Jan 9, 2018 | 6 minute read

    An endangered species recovery success story: Service proposes delisting Monito gecko following conservation collaboration

  19. A bright green irrodescent fish in a small blue net. Jan 3, 2018 | 4 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes endangered status for Barrens topminnow

  20. A deer similar in appearance to a white-tailed deer, but much smaller in size Oct 23, 2017 | 3 minute read

    New survey shows Hurricane Irma had little impact on Key deer population

  21. A hand plunges into shallow water to place a tiny mussel with id number on the stream's rocky bottom. Oct 16, 2017 | 6 minute read

    Clinch River mussel pulled back from the brink of extinction

  22. A small black snake with sparse white scales coiled in an outstretched hand. Jul 17, 2017 | 4 minute read

    A recovery milestone: Threatened eastern indigo snake reintroduced to Florida Panhandle

  23. A small brown bat on the roof of a cave with a fuzzy white fungus on its nose. Jul 17, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Fish and Wildlife Service directs money to Southeast to fight bat disease

  24. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Jul 6, 2017 | 2 minute read

    Federal and state officials request assistance in investigation of January 2017 red wolf death

  25. A citizen approaches a USFWS booth detailing the recovery of red wolves. Jun 9, 2017 | 1 minute read

    The Service explores management options for future red wolf recovery

  26. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. May 22, 2017 | 3 minute read

    Future management of red wolf recovery effort subject of public meetings to be held by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  27. A spiny flower with thin, bright purple petals. May 19, 2017 | 8 minute read

    2016 National and Regional Recovery Champions

  28. A large grey bird flying in front of a bright blue sky. May 19, 2017 | 4 minute read

    May 19th is Endangered Species Day

  29. A light brown fish with bright orange markings on the tops of its fins. Mar 6, 2017 | 5 minute read

    Draft recovery plan for endangered yellowcheek darter available

  30. A sloped, rocky stream in winter. Nov 10, 2016 | 4 minute read

    Recovery plan available for endangered laurel dace

  31. Biologists crowd around a seine. Oct 31, 2016 | 3 minute read

    Chucky madtom draft recovery plan available for review

  32. Green leafy vegetation with bright yellow flowers climbs a rock face. Oct 7, 2016 | 3 minute read

    Successful recovery and removal from Endangered Species Act of native Kentucky plant a victory for conservation partners

  33. An inquisitive red wolf looks into the distance. Sep 12, 2016 | 4 minute read

    Science leads Fish and Wildlife Service to significant changes for red wolf recovery

  34. A light brown snake with darker black and brown markings on a green vine. Aug 17, 2016 | 2 minute read

    Fish and Wildlife Service conducts five-year status reviews of 14 Caribbean species

  35. Small bird with brown and white feathering. Yellow feathering on its head. May 11, 2016 | 4 minute read

    First captive-bred Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks hatched

  36. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. Oct 27, 2015 | 4 minute read

    Update: red wolf recovery review progressing towards recommendations

  37. A white and black frog standing on dormant grass. Sep 9, 2015 | 4 minute read

    Recovery plan for endangered frog available

  38. A bright green parrot with red markings around it's beak spreads it's wings. Aug 13, 2015 | 5 minute read

    Significant achievement in the transfer of Puerto Rican parrots to the Maricao Commonwealth Forest

  39. A red wolf in a full run on a grassy field. Jun 30, 2015 | 3 minute read

    Service halts red wolf reintroductions pending examination of recovery program

  40. A Louisiana black bear standing in a grassy clearing Jun 12, 2015 | 2 minute read

    Service announces public hearings on proposal to delist Louisiana black bear

  41. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. May 20, 2015 | 5 minute read

    Secretary Jewell, Governor Jindal announce proposal to remove Louisiana black bear from endangered species list

  42. A sloped, rocky stream in winter. Jan 14, 2015 | 3 minute read

    Draft recovery plan for endangered laurel dace available for review

  43. A reddish grey wolf with yellow eyes. Nov 20, 2014 | 4 minute read

    Service receives red wolf program evaluation from WMI

  44. Snail with a large orange and black shell. Nov 6, 2014 | 4 minute read

    Recovery plan for two endangered snails and an endangered mussel available

  45. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Aug 29, 2014 | 3 minute read

    Eastern North Carolina Red wolf population under review

  46. A dead red wolf shows signs of decomposition in the understory. Nov 21, 2013 | 4 minute read

    Federal officials request assistance in sixth gunshot red wolf reward up to $26,000

  47. A dead red wolf with a gun shot wound to the body in the bed of a truck. Nov 20, 2013 | 4 minute read

    Federal officials request assistance regarding latest red wolf killing

  48. A red wolf in a zoo enclosure. Nov 5, 2013 | 5 minute read

    Local and national conservation organizations increase reward to $21,000 for investigation assistance related to red wolf deaths

  49. A red wolf in a semi-forested fenced enclosure. Oct 30, 2013 | 3 minute read

    Reward offered for information regarding red wolf death

  50. A tiny red wolf pup held by a biologist wearing blue gloves. Jun 12, 2013 | 4 minute read

    Fewer red wolf litters reported for 2013 whelping season

  51. Panoramic view of a forested mountain range in Arkansas. May 14, 2013 | 3 minute read

    Service delists Magazine Mountain shagreen

  52. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Jan 29, 2013 | 3 minute read

    Reward offered for investigation assistance relating to red wolf death

  53. A tiny red wolf pup held by a biologist wearing blue gloves. Nov 9, 2012 | 3 minute read

    Reward offered for investigation assistance relating to third red wolf death

  54. A red wolf in a full run on a grassy field. Oct 26, 2012 | 3 minute read

    $2,500 reward offered for information on second red wolf death

  55. Three bright white birds with red patches on their face and long slender legs standing in the mud. Sep 14, 2012 | 2 minute read

    Service appoints new whooping crane recovery coordinator

  56. Two students wearing waders in a streem inspect a seine. Mar 20, 2012 | 3 minute read

    Service announces endangered species recovery champion awards

  57. A low growing shrub with bright purple flowers. Aug 9, 2011 | 2 minute read

    Final recovery plan for endangered Pynes ground-plum available

  58. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. Mar 31, 2011 | 1 minute read

    Restoring Louisiana black bear habitat

  59. Two small fish hiding in some thick submerged aquatic vegetation. Mar 28, 2011 | 4 minute read

    Okaloosa darter on the road to recovery

  60. A mussel with brownish outer shell and a glossy white inner shell that resembles a baked potato. Mar 18, 2011 | 4 minute read

    Service announces endangered species recovery champion awards: southeast awardees from NC, TN

  61. A bumblebee feasting on flower nectar from a purple flower. Aug 12, 2010 | 5 minute read

    Tennessee purple coneflower proposed for delisting

  62. Hundreds of partially submerged snails. Jun 22, 2010 | 4 minute read

    Tulotoma snail on the road to recovery

  63. A Florida panther walking on a gravel road with a slash pine forest in the background Dec 18, 2009 | 3 minute read

    Florida panther recovery plan, third revision available

  64. Hundreds of brown pelicans cover a vegetated beach. Nov 11, 2009 | 4 minute read

    Brown pelican populations recovered, removed from Endangered Species List

  65. A bright green parrot with red markings around its beak spreads its wings. Jun 17, 2009 | 3 minute read

    Puerto Rican parrot recovery plan available

  66. Grassy vegetation emerges from coastal beach dunes. Apr 22, 2009 | 3 minute read

    Agency draft recovery plan for St. Andrew beach mouse available for review

  67. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. Oct 10, 2007 | 2 minute read

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of the red wolf five-year review

How we recover species

A listed species enters the world of recovery as soon as the final rule listing it under the ESA becomes effective. The Service frequently continues efforts with our partners that began before the species was under consideration for listing. The Southeast Region identifies a field office recovery lead for each listed species at the time of listing who can immediately move forward with recovery work. For example, recovery actions could include working with a state park to restore dunes, or with a national forest to remove exotic overcrowding vegetation, or with a university professor in propagation of a species.

In order to have a transparent path to achieve recovery, the Service develops recovery plans for listed species that outline the actions that need to be taken in order to move the species towards no longer requiring federal protection.

The process of developing a recovery plan is unique for each species. When developing plans, we take many things into consideration, including:

  • the types of factors that threaten the species;
  • the magnitude of those threats;
  • the degree to which the threats can reversed.

The biology of the species, the current number of individuals of the species, and their distributions, as well as other factors, are critically important.

These plans outline the benchmarks needed to stabilize and improve the species’ status, ultimately allowing for removal from the list of endangered and threatened species. Often recovery teams composed of species experts, both internal and external to the Service, work together to develop and implement recovery plans.

You can find the recovery plan for any protected species using our Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS).

Two brown pelicans on a ground nest with their mouths slightly open
Pair of brown pelicans. Photo by Jackie Orsulak, USFWS.

Successfully recovered southeastern species

Species downlisted from endangered to threatened

A bright green parrot with a green band on it's right foot
The endangered Puerto Rican parrot. Photo by Tom MacKenzie, USFWS.

Recovery teams

Some species have entire teams of biologists dedicated to their recovery. Learn more about the species and their programs:

Contact Us

Aaron Valenta, Chief, Division of Restoration and Recovery
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA
aaron_valenta@fws.gov, 404 679-4144

Matthew Dekar, Deputy Chief, Division of Restoration and Recovery
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA
matthew_dekar@fws.gov, 404-679-4127

Kelly Bibb, Recovery Coordinator
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA
kelly_bibb@fws.gov, 404-679-7132

Contact Us:

Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson.

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