Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Threatened, Endangered and Candidate Species

On September 1, 1914, the last known individual passenger pigeon (Ectopistses migratorius) died at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden.  The passenger pigeon had been one of the most abundant birds in North America, but unchecked market hunting and loss of habitat in the 18th and 19th centuries reduced populations so dramatically that by the time people thought to try and halt the decline, populations were too small and isolated to be recovered.  To learn more about other endangered species and why they are worth saving, please download the US FWS brochure  Why Save Endangered Species.

Today, there are State and Federal laws in place to help prevent extinction of native fish, wildlife, and plants. The most important of the Federal laws is the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act, or ESA, is to:

“provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the treaties and  conventions set forth …. “

The ESA is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The FWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife.  The ESA distinguishes several categories of species:   Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate.    

  • Endangered species are any species that are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 
  • Threatened species are species that are likely to become endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
  • Candidate species are species for which there is sufficient information about biological status and threats to propose them as endangered or threatened, but for which developing a proposed listing regulation is precluded by other higher priority listing activities. The FWS may continue to work with States, Tribes, private landowners, private partners, and other Federal agencies to carry out conservation actions for these species to prevent further decline and possibly eliminate the need for listing.

The Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (Yreka FWO) has many programs that support and implement the ESA including: Listing review, Consultation with other agencies, Working with Private Landowners, Species Recovery, and Working in Late Successional Reserves.

EndangeredSpeciesPassenger Pigeon, USFWS file