December 28, 2023

The Endangered Species Act was enacted on Dec. 28, 1973 after passing Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. In honor of its 50th anniversary, Defenders of Wildlife highlighted 50 species over 50 days that were recovered or protected by this bedrock conservation law. Check out the animals and plants we showcased that are with us today thanks to the ESA!

 

 

Please note the following species are listed in the order they appeared in Defenders’ countdown. 

1. Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle Fact

2. Rusty-patched Bumblebee

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Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Facts

Here’s the hidden story of these bumblebees and the mission blue butterfly.  

3. Grizzly Bear 

Protected by the ESA since 1975. Currently listed as threatened. 

4. Ocelot

Protected by the ESA since 1982. Currently listed as endangered. 

5. Mission Blue Butterfly 

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Mission Blue Butterfly   Icaricia icarioides missionensis      Date Listed: 1976      ESA Status: Endangered      Primary Threats: Habitat destruction and degradation, non-native plants and insects, and climate change.

6. Peregrine Falcon 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1973 to 1999. 

 

7. Florida Panther 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

8. Golden Paintbrush 

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Golden Paintbrush   Castilleja levisecta      Fun Fact: These bright yellow flowers are native to prairies in the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia. They typically flower between April and June.      Date Listed: 1997      Primary Threat When Listed: Prairie habitat loss and fragmentation to agriculture and development.       Date Recovered: 2023      Take Note: There were fewer than 20,000 plants across 10 sites when the golden paintbrush was listed. Within the last five years, thousands can

9. North Atlantic Right Whale 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered.

Whale it out loud for the critically endangered North Atlantic right and Rice’s whales. 

10. Red-cockaded Woodpecker 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

11. Northern Long Eared Bat 

Protected by the ESA since 2015. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

12. California Tiger Salamander 

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California Tiger Salamander   Ambystoma californiense      Fun Fact: For a few rainy nights between November and April, these salamanders partake in a mass migration to their breeding sites, which are standing bodies of fresh water.      Date Listed: 2000      Current Status: Endangered   Santa Barbara and Sonoma Counties in California list the species as endangered. Central California lists the species as threatened.      Primary Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation      Take Note: California tiger sala

13. Golden Cheeked Warbler 

Protected by the ESA since 1990. Currently listed as endangered. 

14. Florida Manatee

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Florida Manatee

Learn how Defenders are saving manatees close to their home and heart. 

15. Red Wolf 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

16. Chinook Pacific Salmon 

Protected by the ESA since 1999. Currently listed as endangered. 

17. San Joaquin Kit Fox 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

18. Spruce Fir Moss Spider 

Protected by the ESA since 1995. Currently listed as endangered. 

19. California Condor 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

20. Desert Tortoise 

Protected by the ESA since 1990. Currently listed as threatened. 

21. Gray Wolf 

Protected by the ESA since 1974. Currently listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in the remaining Lower 48 except the Northern Rockies. 

 

22. Southern Resident Orca 

Protected by the ESA since 2005. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

23. Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl 

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Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum Original date listed: 1997 Date removedL 2006 Date relisted: 2023 Primary Threats: Habitat loss due to development, and urban and agricultural sprawl; livestock grazing; invasive species; and extensive droughts due to climate change.

Give a tooting-hoot about these owls. 

24. Texas Blind Salamander 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

25. White Bark Pine 

Protected by the ESA since 2022. Currently listed as threatened. 

26. Loggerhead Turtle 

Protected by the ESA since 2011. Currently listed as endangered. 

27. Honduran Emerald Hummingbird 

Protected by the ESA since 2015. Currently listed as endangered. 

28. Black-footed Ferret 

Protected by the ESA since 1973. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

29. Scalloped Hammerhead Shark  

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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark   Sphyrna lewini      Fun Fact: Scalloped hammerheads are named after the grooves along the front edge of their hammer-shaped heads.      Date Listed: 2014      Current Status: Populations living in the Eastern Atlantic and Eastern Pacific are currently listed as endangered. Populations living in the Central and Southwest Atlantic and Indo-West Pacific are threatened.      Primary Threats: Finning — hunted for its dorsal fin which is used in shark fin soup— and bycatch.      Take

30. Rufa Red Knot

Take a journey through nine fun facts about these migratory birds. 

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Rufa Red Knot Species Info

 

31. Louisiana Black Bear 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1992 to 2016. 

32. Lesser Prairie Chicken 

Not currently protected by the ESA, but under consideration. 

33. Brown Pelican 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1973 to 1985. 

34. Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog 

Protected by the ESA since 2023. Currently listed as threatened. 

 

35. Bog Turtle 

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A orange info graphic about the Bog Turtle. It says they were listed in 1997 and are currently listed as Threatened under the ESA.

Meet the tiniest turtle in North America. 

36. Mexican Gray Wolf  

Protected by the ESA since 1976. Currently listed as endangered. 

37. Pinyon Jay 

Not currently protected by the ESA, but under consideration. 

38. Snail Darter 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1975 to 2022. 

39. Greater Sage-grouse 

Protected by the ESA since 2010. Currently listed as endangered. 

40. Clubshell Mussel 

Protected by the ESA since 1976. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

41. Mexican Spotted Owl 

Protected by the ESA since 1993. Currently listed as threatened. 

42. American Alligator

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American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis Date Listed: 1967 Date Recovered: 1987 Primary Threat When Listed: Overhunting for their meat and hide. Today, most states still protect alligators in some way. Hunting is largely regylated including requiring permits and only allowing adult alligators to be harvested.

Find out why we almost say "see you later" to the American Alligator and eight other amazing facts.

43. Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit

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Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit   Brachylagus idahoensis      Fun Fact: Weighing a maximum of one pound and growing up to nearly a foot long, pygmy rabbits are the world's smallest rabbit.       Date Listed: 2003      Current Status: Endangered in the Columbia Basin of Washington state      Primary Threats: Loss of sagebrush and grass habitats due to development, extraction, and invasive grasses and wildlife. Also, rabbit hemorrhagic disease — a highly contagious, fatal virus that spreads to domestic and wild r

44. Cook Inlet Beluga Whale 

Protected by the ESA since 2008. Currently listed as endangered. 

 

45. Aleutian Canada Goose 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1973 to 2001. 

46. Island Night Lizard 

Recovered! Protected by the ESA from 1977 to 2014.  

47. Steller Sea Lion 

Protected by the ESA since 1990. Currently listed as endangered. 

48. Beaufort Sea Polar Bear 

Protected by the ESA since 2008. Currently listed as threatened. 

 

49. Piping Plover 

Protected by the ESA since 1986. Currently listed as threatened. 

50. Southern Sea Otter 

Protected by the ESA since 1977. Currently listed as threatened. 

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