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A bald eagle in flight at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

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


  1. A small fish covered in small, colorful polka dots of red and black May 16, 2018

    Partners for Fish and Wildlife helps Mississippi landowners, threatened fish

  2. A creek runs through a forest. Apr 12, 2018

    Stalking the rare painted rocksnail

  3. A young hunter crouches while holding a rife in the woods. Apr 9, 2018

    Hunting the wild hog

  4. A mussel with fringe around its opening partially burried in the sand on the river bottom. Mar 22, 2018

    Endangered mussel making a comeback in the French Broad River

  5. Buildings with boarded up doors and windows designed to mimic the Middle East. Mar 22, 2018

    Marines and woodpeckers share the high ground

  6. A small woodpecker perched on a pine tree. Feb 14, 2018

    Steward of the land

  7. A hand holding eight endangered Cumberland bean mussels. Jan 30, 2018

    2017 mussel harvest in Kentucky is a success

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

    Safe harbor for woodpeckers

  9. A tiny white and brown mouse held by a biologist. Dec 13, 2017

    The mouse that roared

  10. A small green plant growing in a sand dune with bright red/pink stems. Dec 7, 2017

    From Massachusetts to South Carolina, recovering seabeach amaranth

  11. A woodpecker perched on a tree with a bug in its mouth Nov 20, 2017

    The woodpecker’s journey

  12. A tiny loggerhead hatchling hustles towards the ocean. Nov 6, 2017

    Moonlighting in Alabama

  13. Three green parrots standing on a perch in a cage. Oct 17, 2017

    Soaring past danger

  14. A gentleman with a grey mustache standing next to a mature longleaf pine tree. Aug 9, 2017

    Growing trees, saving species

  15. Jul 19, 2017

    Wolf Creek continues mussel culture

  16. Fuzzy yellow and purple flowers emerging from a green grass-like stalk. Jun 27, 2017

    Recovery progress for the American chaffseed

  17. A dozen dark mussels in a propagation tank with sandy substrate. Jun 12, 2017

    Musseling back from near extinction

  18. A bucket full of yellow/brown mussels. Jun 5, 2017

    There was a mussel called fatmucket...

  19. A bright green parrot with red markings on its face and blue flight feathers. Nov 30, 2016

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

  20. Biologist Maria Davidson wearing camoflage holding a Louisiana black bear cub Mar 10, 2016

    Bear biologist Maria Davidson educates people, relocates wayward bears

  21. Two biologists check on the health of a sedated Louisiana black bear Mar 10, 2016

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

  22. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. Mar 10, 2016

    Debbie Fuller: working hard at work worth doing

  23. Conservationists from the Natural Resources Conservation Service gather around the hood of a truck to investigate paperwork Mar 10, 2016

    Easement program a win-win for landowners and black bears

  24. Mar 10, 2016

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

  25. A black bear in a field locks eyes with the camera as it eats grassy vegetation. Mar 10, 2016

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

  26. A biologist taking a health assessment for a tranquilized bear Mar 10, 2016

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

Press Releases

  1. Two butterflies with blue and orange spots perched on a bright red flower covered in pollen. May 18, 2018

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

  2. A reddish grey wolf with yellow eyes. Apr 24, 2018

    Status review shows the red wolf remains endangered

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

    Cumberland darter draft recovery plan available for review

  4. A group of about a dozen small triangular shellfish in shallow water. Apr 2, 2018

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

  5. A tiny yellow/orange frog with big round eyes. Mar 9, 2018

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

  6. Biologists wearing white gowns head-to-toe walking through nets in a marsh holding whooping cranes. Mar 7, 2018

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

  7. A large limestone island emerges from the sea covered in green vegetation. Jan 9, 2018

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

  8. A bright green irrodescent fish in a small blue net. Jan 3, 2018

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

  9. A deer similar in appearance to a white-tailed deer, but much smaller in size Oct 23, 2017

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

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

    Clinch River mussel pulled back from the brink of extinction

  11. A small black snake with sparse white scales coiled in an outstretched hand. Jul 17, 2017

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

  12. A small brown bat on the roof of a cave with a fuzzy white fungus on its nose. Jul 17, 2017

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

  13. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Jul 6, 2017

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

  14. A citizen approaches a USFWS booth detailing the recovery of red wolves. Jun 9, 2017

    The Service explores management options for future red wolf recovery

  15. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. May 22, 2017

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

  16. A spiny flower with thin, bright purple petals. May 19, 2017

    2016 National and Regional Recovery Champions

  17. A large grey bird flying in front of a bright blue sky. May 19, 2017

    May 19th is Endangered Species Day

  18. A light brown fish with bright orange markings on the tops of its fins. Mar 6, 2017

    Draft recovery plan for endangered yellowcheek darter available

  19. A sloped, rocky stream in winter. Nov 10, 2016

    Recovery plan available for endangered laurel dace

  20. Biologists crowd around a seine. Oct 31, 2016

    Chucky madtom draft recovery plan available for review

  21. Green leafy vegetation with bright yellow flowers climbs a rock face. Oct 7, 2016

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

  22. An inquisitive red wolf looks into the distance. Sep 12, 2016

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

  23. A light brown snake with darker black and brown markings on a green vine. Aug 17, 2016

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

  24. Small bird with brown and white feathering. Yellow feathering on its head. May 11, 2016

    First captive-bred Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks hatched

  25. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. Oct 27, 2015

    Update: red wolf recovery review progressing towards recommendations

  26. A white and black frog standing on dormant grass. Sep 9, 2015

    Recovery plan for endangered frog available

  27. A bright green parrot with red markings around it's beak spreads it's wings. Aug 13, 2015

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

  28. A red wolf in a full run on a grassy field. Jun 30, 2015

    Service halts red wolf reintroductions pending examination of recovery program

  29. A Louisiana black bear standing in a grassy clearing Jun 12, 2015

    Service announces public hearings on proposal to delist Louisiana black bear

  30. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. May 20, 2015

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

  31. A sloped, rocky stream in winter. Jan 14, 2015

    Draft recovery plan for endangered laurel dace available for review

  32. A reddish grey wolf with yellow eyes. Nov 20, 2014

    Service receives red wolf program evaluation from WMI

  33. Snail with a large orange and black shell. Nov 6, 2014

    Recovery plan for two endangered snails and an endangered mussel available

  34. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Aug 29, 2014

    Eastern North Carolina Red wolf population under review

  35. A dead red wolf shows signs of decomposition in the understory. Nov 21, 2013

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

  36. A dead red wolf with a gun shot wound to the body in the bed of a truck. Nov 20, 2013

    Federal officials request assistance regarding latest red wolf killing

  37. A red wolf in a zoo enclosure. Nov 5, 2013

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

  38. A red wolf in a semi-forested fenced enclosure. Oct 30, 2013

    Reward offered for information regarding red wolf death

  39. A tiny red wolf pup held by a biologist wearing blue gloves. Jun 12, 2013

    Fewer red wolf litters reported for 2013 whelping season

  40. Panoramic view of a forested mountain range in Arkansas. May 14, 2013

    Service delists Magazine Mountain shagreen

  41. A wolf with grey and brown fur and tan eyes in front of a rock wall. Jan 29, 2013

    Reward offered for investigation assistance relating to red wolf death

  42. A tiny red wolf pup held by a biologist wearing blue gloves. Nov 9, 2012

    Reward offered for investigation assistance relating to third red wolf death

  43. A red wolf in a full run on a grassy field. Oct 26, 2012

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

  44. Three bright white birds with red patches on their face and long slender legs standing in the mud. Sep 14, 2012

    Service appoints new whooping crane recovery coordinator

  45. Two students wearing waders in a streem inspect a seine. Mar 20, 2012

    Service announces endangered species recovery champion awards

  46. A low growing shrub with bright purple flowers. Aug 9, 2011

    Final recovery plan for endangered Pynes ground-plum available

  47. Three small black bear cubs yawning in unison. Mar 31, 2011

    Restoring Louisiana black bear habitat

  48. Two small fish hiding in some thick submerged aquatic vegetation. Mar 28, 2011

    Okaloosa darter on the road to recovery

  49. A mussel with brownish outer shell and a glossy white inner shell that resembles a baked potato. Mar 18, 2011

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

  50. A bumblebee feasting on flower nectar from a purple flower. Aug 12, 2010

    Tennessee purple coneflower proposed for delisting

  51. Hundreds of partially submerged snails. Jun 22, 2010

    Tulotoma snail on the road to recovery

  52. A Florida panther walking on a gravel road with a slash pine forest in the background Dec 18, 2009

    Florida panther recovery plan, third revision available

  53. Hundreds of brown pelicans cover a vegetated beach. Nov 11, 2009

    Brown pelican populations recovered, removed from Endangered Species List

  54. A bright green parrot with red markings around its beak spreads its wings. Jun 17, 2009

    Puerto Rican parrot recovery plan available

  55. Grassy vegetation emerges from coastal beach dunes. Apr 22, 2009

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

  56. An adult red wolf walking stealthily in a caged enclosure at the zoo. Oct 10, 2007

    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, 404 679-4144

Matthew Dekar, Deputy Chief, Division of Restoration and Recovery
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA, 404-679-4127

Kelly Bibb, Recovery Coordinator
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA, 404-679-7132

Contact Us:

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

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