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Federal Special Status Species
Under Consideration for Protection

Species Under
Consideration for Protection
Special Status Information

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) states that the Federal government (Secretary of Interior or Secretary of Commerce) will determine whether any species is endangered or threatened because of any of the following factors:

  • The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat of range;
  • Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • Disease or predation;
  • The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;
  • Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

The two Federal agencies responsible for these determinations (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service) have slightly different processes when considering species for listing under the ESA.

Both agencies can initiate a status review to gather and analyze all available information regarding a species to determine if that species is threatened or endangered at any time that those agencies think a species may be at risk. In addition, both agencies can initiate a status review when they are petitioned by a separate agency or organization asking that a species be listed under the ESA. The USFWS or NMFS will examine the petition to determine if it "presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted." If the Service determines that the petition present substantial information, the agency will initiate a status review. If the information presented in the petition is not substantial, the petition is denied.

When NMFS decides to initiate a status review of a species, that agency automatically designates the species under review as a Candidate species. This designation indicates that NMFS is considering listing the species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. If NMFS determines that the species is not threatened or endangered, the species is also no longer considered a Candidate species.

The USFWS does not automatically designate a species as a Candidate when a status review is initiated. Instead, at the conclusion of a status review, if the USFWS determines that the species should be listed as threatened or endangered, but does not have the time or resources to move forward with the listing, that agency will designate the species as a Candidate for listing.

The State of Alaska aids NMFS and USFWS with status reviews and Candidate species designations by providing these agencies with information that the state has regarding the biology of the species, and State of Alaska regulations that aid in the protection of those species.

The list of species on this webpage includes a combination of Candidate species, and species for which status reviews are currently being conducted by Federal agencies. For additional information about species under consideration for protection under the ESA, please see the Agency Contacts tab.