Federal Listings


ESA: Endangered Species Act of 1973 


The ESA provides for the conservation of species that are in danger of endangerment or extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. A species must be listed if it is threatened or endangered due to any of the following five factors:


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) share the responsibility for implementation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The FWS implements programs and regulations for terrestrial and freshwater species. The NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR) is charged with the implementation of the ESA for marine and anadromous species.


All Federal agencies are required to undertake programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species, and are prohibited from authorizing, funding, or carrying out any action that jeopardizes a listed species or destroys or modifies its "critical habitat". Critical habitat is defined as specific areas that are essential to the conservation of a Federally listed species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands. The ESA requires that critical habitat is designated concurrently with the listing of a species, when prudent, and economic and other impacts of designation were required to be considered in deciding on boundaries


Section 4(f) of the ESA requires that FWS or NMFS develop and implement plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and threatened species. These 'Recovery Plans' are documents prepared for listed species that detail the specific tasks needed for recovery and provide a blueprint for private, Federal, and State cooperation in the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems. In addition, the ESA requires that FWS or NMFS conducts a review of listed species at least once every 5 years to determine whether species should be removed from the list (delisted) or reclassified (from endangered to threatened or threatened to endangered).


The entire text of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 is available at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/ESA/ESA.html. More information about the FWS Endangered Species Program is available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/. More information about the NMFS Endangered Species Program is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/esa/. 


ESA Listing Codes:


Endangered: The classification provided to an animal or plant in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.


Threatened: The classification provided to an animal or plant likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.


Proposed: Any species of fish, wildlife, or plant that is proposed in the Federal Register to be listed (as threatened or endangered) or delisted under Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act.


Proposed Endangered: Proposed for federal listing as Endangered

Proposed Threatened: Proposed for federal listing as Threatened
Proposed Delisting: Proposed for federal de-listing


Candidate: candidate for federal listing as endangered or threatened

NMFS: 'candidate species' refers to: (1) species that are the subject of a petition to list and for which NMFS has determined that listing may be warranted, and (2) species for which NMFS has determined, following a status review, that listing is warranted (whether or not they are the subject of a petition) [from 69 FR 19975; 4/15/2004].  For more information about species listed as Candidates by the NMFS visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/species/concern/index.html


FWS: Candidate species are plants and animals for which the FWS has sufficient information on their biological status and threats to propose them as endangered or threatened under the ESA, but for which development of a proposed listing regulation is precluded by other higher priority listing activities. For more information on the FWS Candidate Conservation Program visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/candidates/index.html


Spp. Concern: Species of Concern

NMFS: 'species of concern' refers to species about which NMFS has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the ESA. This may include species for which NMFS has determined, following a biological status review that listing under the ESA is 'not warranted,' but for which significant concerns or uncertainties remain regarding their status and/or threats  [from 69 FR 19975; 4/15/2004]. For more information and a list of Species of Concern visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/species/concern/index.html


FWS: Species of concern is an informal term used by some, but not all, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices. The Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office no longer maintains a Species of Concern List for species in California (see lists below for information on species of concern to other federal agencies). For more information visit: http://sacramento.fws.gov/es/spp_concern.htm.






MMPA: Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972


The Marine Mammal Protection Act sets forth a national policy to prevent marine mammal species and population stocks from diminishing, as a result of human activities, beyond the point at which they cease to be significant functioning elements of the ecosystems of which they are a part.


The primary objective of marine mammal management under the MMPA should be to maintain the health and stability of the marine ecosystem and, when consistent with that primary objective, to maintain Optimum Sustainable Populations (OSP) of marine mammals. The Act includes a general moratorium on the taking and importing of marine mammals, which is subject to a number of exceptions. 'Take' is defined broadly to include actions that kill or harass marine mammals. Harassment includes pursuing, tormenting, and injuring animals as well as disturbing the animalÝs normal behaviors such as feeding.


The MMPA requires that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) develop Stock Assessment Reports for all marine mammal stocks that occur regularly in U.S. waters. These reports are based upon the best available scientific information and include information on the distribution, abundance, population trends, human-caused mortality, and the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) of each stock. Stock assessment reports are reviewed annually for stocks designated as 'strategic' and for stocks for which new information is available. All other stocks are reviewed at least once every three years.


The Act also established the Marine Mammal Commission and provides the authority under which the Commission operates. For more information and links to the text of the MMPA, visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/mmpa.htm or visit the Marine Mammal Commission website at http://www.mmc.gov/legislation/mmpa.html.



If a population or stock falls below its OSP, it is designated as 'depleted,' and a conservation plan is developed to guide research and management actions to restore the population to healthy levels.  Links to the current stock assessment reports, which determine if a stock should be designated as depleted, are available on the NMFS Protected Species web site at:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/Stock_Assessment_Program/sars.html.  For additional information about depleted species visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/PR2/depleted.html.


Strategic: Strategic Stock

Strategic stocks are those that (1) have a level of direct human-caused mortality exceeding the calculated PBR level, (2) are designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, (3) are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or (4) are likely to be listed as endangered or threatened in the foreseeable future. When possible, measures should be identified and implemented to reduce mortality of a strategic stock. Links to the current stock assessment reports are available on the NMFS Protected Species web site at:


MBTA: Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is the domestic law that affirms, or implements, the United StatesÝ commitment to four international conventions (with Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia) for the protection of shared migratory bird resources. Each of the conventions protect selected species of migratory birds that are common to both countries. Under the MBTA, taking, killing or possessing any of these species of migratory birds (or their parts, nests or eggs) is unlawful.


Visit the following websites for a list of migratory birds protected under the MBTA (http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/intrnltr/mbta/mbtandx.htmll) and to view the text of the MBTA (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/16/ch7.html).  A summary of laws and treaties of the U.S. for protecting migratory birds is available from http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/intrnltr/treatlaw.html .




FWS: Fish and Wildlife Service


BCC: Birds of Conservation Concern

The goal of the Birds of Conservation Concern 2002 report is to accurately identify the migratory and non-migratory bird species (beyond those already designated as Federally threatened or endangered) that represent the FWSÝs highest conservation priorities and draw attention to species in need of conservation action. The FWS hopes, that by focusing attention on these highest priority species, this report will promote greater study and protection of the habitats and ecological communities upon which these species depend, thereby ensuring the future of healthy avian populations and communities. A copy of the report is available at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/reports/bcc2002.pdf .




NMFS: National Marine Fisheries Service



'Overfished' is defined in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for each species or species complex. According to the FMP definition, a stock (or fish population) is considered overfished (or depleted) when its biomass falls below 25% of the unfished biomass (biomass is the weight of a population of fish). Once a stock is declared overfished, measures must be taken to rebuild stock abundance at an appropriate rate within an appropriate time frame. For most West Coast groundfish stocks, the target rebuilding level is 40% of the unfished biomass.


Precautionary Zone

Stocks with biomass between 40% and 25% of the unfished biomass are considered in the 'precautionary zone'.

For more information on the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP visit:





FS: USDA Forest Service


Sensitive:  The Forest Service defines sensitive species as those plant and animal species identified by a regional forester for which population viability is a concern, as evidenced by significant current or predicted downward trends in population numbers or density, or significant current or predicted downward trends in habitat capability that would reduce a speciesÝ existing distribution. Regional Foresters shall identify sensitive species occurring within the region. They shall examine the following sources as possible candidates for listing as sensitive species (Forest Service Manual Title 2600):


1.       U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service candidates for federal listing or species of concern.

2.       State lists of endangered, threatened, rare, endemic, unique, or vanishing species, especially those listed as threatened under state law.

3.       Other sources as appropriate in order to focus conservation management strategies and to avert the need for federal or state listing as a result of National Forest management activities.


For information about the Pacific Southwest RegionÝs Sensitive Species Program and a list of species go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/projects/sensitive-species/.




State Listings


CESA: California Endangered Species Act


The California Endangered Species Act (Fish & Game Code ▀▀ 2050, et seq.) generally parallels the main provisions of the Federal Endangered Species Act and is administered by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG).  Under CESA, state agencies should avoid approving projects which would jeopardize either the existence of a listed species or its essential habitat.


CESA requires the California Fish and Game Commission to (1) adopt regulations for petitioning to list a species as threatened or endangered and (2) establish criteria for determining whether a species is endangered or threatened (California Code of Regulations, Title 14 ▀670.1). CESA prohibits the "taking" of listed or candidate species except as otherwise provided in State law. Fish and Game Code ▀86 defines "take" as "hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill."


The text of the California Endangered Species Act can be found by searching the Fish and Game Code available at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. To view sections of the California Code of Regulations visit: http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?SP=CCR-1000. To view a list of species that are listed under CESA: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hcpb/species/t_e_spp/tespp.shtml.


CESA Listing Codes


Endangered: A native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant which is in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all, or a significant portion, of its range due to one or more causes, including loss of habitat, change in habitat, overexploitation, predation, competition, or disease.


Threatened: A native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant that, although not presently threatened with extinction, is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future in the absence of the special protection and management efforts.


Candidate: "Candidate species" means a native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant that the commission has formally noticed as being under review by the department for addition to either the list of endangered species or the list of threatened species, or a species for which the commission has published a notice of proposed regulation to add the species to either list


Spp. Special Concern: Species of Special Concern

"Species of Special Concern" (SSC) status applies to animals not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act or the California Endangered Species Act, but which nonetheless 1) are declining at a rate that could result in listing, or 2) historically occurred in low numbers and known threats to their persistence currently exist. This designation is intended to result in special consideration for these animals by CDFG, land managers, consulting biologists, and others, and is intended to focus attention on the species to help avert the need for costly listing under federal and State endangered species laws and cumbersome recovery efforts that might ultimately be required. This designation also is intended to stimulate collection of additional information on the biology, distribution, and status of poorly known at-risk species, and focus research and management attention on them. Department staff should consider SSCs during 1) the environmental review process, 2) conservation planning process, 3) the preparation of management plans for Department lands, and 4) inventories, surveys, and monitoring (conducted either by the Department or others with whom we are cooperating). For more information visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hcpb/species/ssc/ssc.shtml.  The Bird Species of Special Concern List is currently being revised (a draft version is available from http://www.prbo.org/cms/index.php?mid=230&module=browse). Some Species of
DFG: Department of Fish and Game


Fully Protected

The classification of Fully Protected was the State's initial effort in the 1960's to identify and provide additional protection to those animals that were rare or faced possible extinction. Lists were created for fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, birds and mammals. Please note that most fully protected species have also been listed as threatened or endangered species under the more recent endangered species laws and regulations. For more information visit: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hcpb/species/t_e_spp/fullypro/fully_pro.shtml.


Fully Protected species may not be taken or possessed without a permit from the Fish and Game Commission. Information on Fully Protected species can be found in the Fish and Game Code, (birds at ▀3511, mammals at ▀4700, reptiles at ▀5050, and fish at ▀5515; text of Fish and Game Code available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=fgc)


No Take

Limited Take (number allowed)

The Fish and Game Commission sets hunting and sport fishing regulations including seasons, bag limits, methods, and areas of take.  The term 'No take' is used for species for which take or possession is prohibited under the Fish and Game Code. The term 'limited take' is used for species for which take or possession is limited under the Fish and Game Code. The number of a given species that can be taken per day per person is given in parenthesis (only species with a take limit of 3 or less are included in this report).  Laws or regulations created by the Commission are included in either the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR).  These regulations are made available to the general public in the annual publication of the 'Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations Book' and the 'Fresh Water Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet'. These booklets are available at http://www.fgc.ca.gov/html/fishregs.html.




CDF: California Department of Forestry



The Board of Forestry classifies as 'sensitive species' those species that warrant special protection during timber operations. More information in the classification of sensitive species is given in ▀919.12, 939.12, and 959.12 of the California Forest Practice Rules, which is part of the California Code of Regulations Title 14, Chapter 4. The California Forest Practice Rules are available at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/resourcemanagement/pdf/fpa200301.pdf. Information about bird species that are classified as sensitive is given in ▀919.2, 939.2, and 959.2. 




Non-Government Organization (NGO) Listings



IUCN: The World Conservation Union


Red List of Threatened Species

The World Conservation Union (formerly the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is the world's largest conservation organization with government and NGO members from over 140 countries. The IUCN advises and assists governments, NGOs and scientific institutions in developing and implementing conservation strategies. The Species Survival Commission, one of six global commissions within IUCN, has been publishing the "Red List of Threatened Species" for over 30 years. The Red List contains a roster of species that have been assessed against strict criteria designed to determine their relative risk of extinction. The main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those taxa that are facing a higher risk of global extinction. More information can be found on the IUCN Red List website: http://www.redlist.org/.


The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria have several specific aims:


The categories


Critically Endangered: A taxon is Critically Endangered when it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.


Endangered: A taxon is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.


Vulnerable: A taxon is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.


Near Threatened: A taxon is Near Threatened when it does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.


Lower Risk: A taxon is Lower Risk when it has been evaluated, does not satisfy the criteria for any of the categories Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. Taxa included in the Lower Risk category can be separated into three subcategories:


conservation dependent: Taxa which are the focus of a continuing taxon-specific or habitat-specific conservation program targeted towards the taxon in question, the cessation of which would result in the taxon qualifying for one of the threatened categories above within a period of five years.


near threatened: Taxa which do not qualify for Conservation Dependent, but which are close to qualifying for Vulnerable.


Data Deficient: A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status.




AFS: American Fisheries Society


AFS recognizes the following categories of risk to global extinction for marine, estuarine & diadromous fish stocks: endangered, threatened, vulnerable, or conservation dependent . The status of these organisms was determined by applying risk criteria developed from peer-reviewed knowledge and expert scientific opinion. These criteria are 1) rarity, 2) small range and endemics, 3) specialized habitat requirements, and 4) population resilience to decline. 




Endangered: Species with a high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future (years)


Threatened: Species that are not endangered but facing risk of extinction in the near future (decades)


Vulnerable: Species that are not endangered or threatened severely but at possible risk of falling into on the these categories in the near future


Conservation Dependent: Species with reduced numbers, but stabilized or recovering under a continuing conservation plan


For more detailed information visit the Marine Stocks at Risk of Extinction page on the AFS website (http://www.fisheries.org/html/publications/epubs/mstocks/mstocks.shtml).  Text of the paper by Musick et al (2000) that outlines the criteria and provides information on species that meet these criteria is also available (http://www.fisheries.org/html/fisheries/archive/FISHNov06-30.pdf)





Audubon: The Audubon Society


         Watch List 2002

WatchList species are those facing population declines and/or threats such as habitat loss on their breeding and wintering grounds, or with limited geographic ranges. The WatchList is a science-based system that focuses attention on at-risk bird species so that limited resources are spent where they are most needed.


Audubon has used two independent assessments published by BirdLife International and Partners In Flight respectively, to place species in one of three categories: red, yellow, or green. AudubonÝs WatchList 2002 includes those species in the red and yellow categories.  More information is available on the Audubon WatchList website: http://www.audubon.org/bird/watchlist/




Red: species in this category are declining rapidly, have very small populations or limited ranges, and face major conservation threats. These typically are species of global conservation concern.


Yellow: this category includes those species that are also declining, but at a slower rate than those in the red category. These typically are species of national conservation concern.




USBC: United States Bird Conservation


Watch List

American Bird Conservancy has compiled the United States Bird Conservation Watch List which includes all the bird species in the United States of conservation concern. The Watch List includes the Partners in Flight (PIF) Watch List, the United States Shorebird Conservation Plan Watch List, and the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas Watch List. Populations of some of these birds are declining, with continued threats perceived. Others may be stable, but their small population size and/or range indicate a need to at least keep a close eye on their status. For some species on the Watch List, so little is known that basic monitoring and research are necessary before conservation actions can begin. 


The Watch List includes those species identified by the major, collaborative, U.S. bird conservation initiatives as being of greatest conservation concern in the country. The main purposes for creating the List are (1) to highlight the plight of these birds and the need to generate more resources for their conservation, and (2) to properly credit the tireless efforts of the scientists, conservationists, and the organizations who work for a common bird conservation agenda and collaborative solutions. More information is available at: http://www.abcbirds.org/watchlist/. View the Watch List at: http://www.abcbirds.org/watchlist/watchlist_list.htm



International Listings



CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora


CITES is an international agreement between Governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.  The United State of America is one of 166 states that are currently bound to the provisions of CITES. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. 


Appendix I:  includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.


Appendix II:  includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.


Appendix III:  contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.


For extensive information on CITES visit: http://www.cites.org/.  The appendices are available at http://www.cites.org/eng/app/index.shtml.




CMS: Convention on Migratory Species


The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an inter-governmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Program, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. The United States of America is one of 92 (as of 1 August 2005) member Parties from around the globe (including Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.


Appendix I: Migratory species that have been categorized as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant proportion of their range are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them


Appendix II: Migratory species that have an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements are listed in Appendix II to the Convention..


For extensive information on CMS visit: http://www.cms.int/about/index.htm. The appendices are available at http://www.cms.int/documents/appendix/cms_app1_2.htm#appendix_I