Endangered, Threatened and Other Special Status Fishes of North America

The Excel spreadsheet available here lists all "special status" North American freshwater fish species (excluding Hawaii). The information is compiled from federal, state and provincial natural resource agency Web sites, which are all linked from here.

Special status fishes are either 1) protected or listed by federal, state or provincial governments as Endangered or Threatened species; 2) proposed or a candidate for Endangered or Threatened species protection; or 3) listed in one of various classifications that do not necessarily protect the species but formally recognize its increasing rarity and/or vulnerability to imperilment:

  • Species of Concern (US, marine and anadromous fishes only; MT)
  • Special Concern (Canada; many US states; MB, ON, QC)
  • Subject to Special Protection (México, herein referred to as Special Concern)
  • Concern (RI)
  • Rare (GA, MO)
  • Sensitive (NV, OR, WA)
  • In Need of Conservation (KS, MD)
  • Deemed in Need of Management (TN)
  • Watch List (IL)

Redline darter, Etheostoma rufilineatum
© William Roston
The California Department of Fish and Game recognizes three classes of Special Concern:

  • Class 1: taxa that conform to State definitions of Threatened or Endangered and could qualify for addition to the official State list;
  • Class 2: taxa with low, scattered or highly localized populations that require active management to prevent them from becoming Class 1 species; and
  • Class 3: taxa occupying much of their native range, but were formerly more widespread or abundant; taxa with very restricted distributions are also included here.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife divides its Sensitive classification into two categories: Critical, for species in which listing as Threatened or Endangered is pending or may be appropriate if immediate conservation actions are not taken, and some peripheral species at risk throughout their range and some disjunct populations; and Vulnerable, for species in which listing as Threatened or Endangered can be avoided through continued or expanded protective measures.

In September 2005, the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources adopted a three-tiered system that defines and prioritizes Utah's native animal species according to conservation need.

  • Tier I includes federally listed species and species for which a Conservation Agreement has been completed and implemented. ("Conservation Agreement Species" are species or subspecies of concern that receive special management under a conservation agreement developed or implemented by the State to preclude the need for listing under the ESA.)
  • Tier II species include those listed on the Utah Species of Concern List under sole state authority.
  • Tier III includes species that are of conservation concern because they are linked to an at-risk habitat, have suffered marked population declines, or there is little information available regarding the ecology or status of the species.

North Dakota does not have an endangered species act; however, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has identified 100 nongame species, including 22 fishes, as "Species of Conservation Priority" categorized into three levels according to conservation priority:

  • Level I: in greatest need of conservation;
  • Level II: in need of conservation but supported by other wildlife programs; and
  • Level III: in moderate need of conservation but on the edge of their range in North Dakota.
Québec has three listing categories: Espèces menacées, comparable to Endangered; Espèces vulnérables, comparable to Threatened; and Espèces susceptibles d'être désignées menacées ou vulnérables, comparable to Special Concern.

Alabama does not have an endangered species act, but does prohibit the take of several "Protected" fishes. The Yukon has a similar policy, but no fishes are protected. A Protected designation also is enforced in Idaho and Nevada.

British Columbia does not have a stand-alone endangered species act, but does legally protect four species as either Endangered or Threatened; fishes are not among them.

Kentucky, West Virginia, Prince Edward Island, and Nunavut do not maintain lists of special status species except for those already listed by ESA or SARA. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan list special status species, but no freshwater fishes are included.

Listing status abbreviations used in the Excel spreadsheet are as follows:

C = Candidate
D = Deemed in Need of Management
E = Endangered
EX = globally extinct
Ext. = extirpated
EX/w = extinct in wild
NC = In Need of Conservation
P = Protected
PE = Proposed Endangered
PSC = Proposed Special Concern
PT = Proposed Threatened
R = Rare
S = Sensitive
SC = Special Concern, Species of Concern, or Concern (SC species in CA include a number referring to their class, e.g., CS1, CS2, CS3)
SCP = Species of Conservation Priority, with Roman numeral identifying priority level (SCP-I, SCP-II, SCP-III)
S/C = Sensitive/Critical
S/V = Sensitive/Vulnerable
S/P = Sensitive/Peripheral or Naturally Rare
T = Threatened
TrI = Tier I
TrII = Tier II
TrIII = Tier III
WL = Watch List

Species are listed in the phylogenetic order of their families and alphabetically therein. Scientific names follow NANFA's Checklist of Freshwater Fishes Native to North America.

Federal (i.e., US, Canada, México) listings are given first, followed by state listings (in alphabetical order of states), and then, at the far right of the spreadsheet, provincial listings. Two-letter state and provincial abbreviations follow those used by the U.S. Postal Service.

Listing status data is collected from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; NOAA Fisheries, or National Marine Fisheries Service; the Species at Risk Act Public Registry; Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-ECOL-059-2001; and individual state and provincial natural resource websites (accessible through the agencies links page maintained by the North American Native Fishes Association.

Please report corrections and updates to .

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