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CALIFORNIA

Species and Description
(click for a detailed technical account)
Trend
(click to view literature citations and larger graph)
States
(current and historic range)

Guadalupe fur seal
Arctocephalus townsendi


The Guadalupe fur seal was largely extirpated from California in the 1800's due to hunting; it was thought extinct until a bull was seen on San Nicholas Island, California in 1949, and 14 seals were found on Guadalupe in 1954 They have since recolonized the United States, being seen in the Channel and Farallon Islands with increasing regularity since the 1980s.

 

CA(b) ---

El Segundo blue
Euphilotes battoides allyni

The historic population size likely averaged 750,000 butterflies per year, over much of the 3,200 acre El Segundo Dunes of Los Angeles County, California, before the habitat was reduced to 307 degraded acres by development. Currently, there are three populations, the largest at Los Angeles Airport where the population increased from approximately 400 in 1984 to thousands today.

CA(b) ---

San Clemente sage sparrow
Amphispiza belli clementeae


The San Clemente sage sparrow occurs only on San Clemente Island where it has been threatened by the habitat destroying effects of livestock and fires started by military training. The number of sparrows counted on the island increased from 112 in 1976, to between 196 and 280 in 1986, and by the late 1990s larger populations were documented.

CA(b) ---

Aleutian Canada goose
Branta canadensis leucopareia
By the 1960's the Aleutian Canada goose was feared extinct due to the decline caused by the introduction of foxes onto the nesting islands. The goose has rebounded from a handful of remnant populations numbering as few as 790 individuals in 1975 to an estimated 37,000 in 2001, allowing the Aleutian Canada goose to be removed from the Endangered Species list.

AK(b), CA(s), OR(s), WA(m) ---

Southern sea otter
Enhydra lutris nereis
Southern sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction by the fur industry and were placed on the endangered species list in 1977. The population increased from 1,789 in 1976 to 2,735 in 2005.

CA(b) ---

Fin whale
Balaenoptera physalus
Fin whales were hunted in all the world's oceans for the first three-quarters of the 20th century. There have been increases in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific populations in recent years.

AL(o), AK(s), CA(s), CT(s), DE(s), FL(s), GA(s), HI(s), LA(o), ME(s), MD(s), MA(s), MS(o), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(s), OR(s), PA(s), RI(s), SC(s), TX(o), VA(s), WA(s) ---

Blue whale
Balaenoptera musculus
The blue whale was reduced by as much as 99% due to whaling that occurred until the mid-1960's. The number of whales reported off the coast of California increased from 704 in 1980 to an estimated 1,744 today.

AK(s), CA(s), FL(o), HI(s), ME(o), MD(o), MA(o), NI(o), NH(o), NY(o), NC(o), OR(o), PR(o), RI(o), SC(o), VI(o), WA(o) ---

Pacific green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas agassizii
The green sea turtle occurs throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, but declined due to hunting and habitat loss to development. In Hawaii, greater than 90% of nesting occurs at French Frigate Shoals, and nesting females increased there from 75 in 1973 to 470 in 2003

AS(b), CA(s), GU(b), HI(b), MP(b), OR(o), WA(o) ---

San Clemente Island indian paintbrush
Castilleja grisea
The San Clemente Island indian paintbrush declined in the middle of the last century largely due to grazing and trampling by feral goats and pigs. Populations have now rebounded from fewer than 500 plants in 1979 to more than 3,500 plants in 1997, and a dramatic increase has occurred since then.

CA(b) ---

San Miguel Island fox
Urocyon littoralis littoralis

The San Miguel Island fox occurs only on San Miguel Island off the southern California Coast. It is threatened by disease from domestic dogs and predation by invasive golden eagles. The population declined catastrophically from 450 in 1994 to 15 in 1999. Due to captive breeding, relocation of golden eagles and introduction of bald eagles, the population grew to 40 wilde and 26 captive foxes in 2005.

CA(b) ---

Gray whale (northeast Pacific DPS)
Eschrichtius robustus pop. 3Gray whales declined preciptiously through the 17th and 18th century due to intense whaling. Although the number of gray whales has increased and the species is no longer considered endangered, it remains imperiled by ship strikes, coastal development, pollution, military activities, exploration and development of oil and gas resources.

AK(b), CA(b), OR(b), WA(b) ---

Arctic peregrine falcon
Falco peregrinus tundrius
The use of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides resulted in reproductive failures in Arctic peregrines and caused their population to plummet. After DDT was banned, migration counts at the New Jersey Cape May Hawkwatch site saw the number of migrating Arctic peregrines increase from 103 in 1976, to 429 in 1992 (the species was delisted in 1994), to 1,017 in 2004.

AL(m), AK(b), AZ(m), AR(m), CA(m), CO(m), CT(m), DE(m), DC(m), FL(m), GA(m), ID(m), IL(m), IN(m), IA(m), KS(m), KY(m), LA(m), ME(m), MD(m), MA(m), MI(m), MN(m), MS(m), MO(m), MT(m), NE(m), NV(m), NH(m), NY(m), NM(m), NJ(m), NC(m), ND(m), OH(m), OK(m), OR(m), PA(m), RI(m), SC(m), SD(m), TN(m), TX(m), UT(m), VT(m), VA(m), WA(m), WV(m), WI(m), WY(m) ---

Palos Verdes blue
Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis

Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation reduced the Palos Verdes blue butterfly to only a few habitat fragments and by 1984 the species was believed to be extinct. In 1994, a population of a few hundred Palos Verdes blues was discovered and since then their numbers have fluctuated widely but appear overall to be stable; a captive breeding program has also been established.

CA(b) ---

American peregrine falcon
Falco peregrinus anatum


The use of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides resulted in reproductive failures in American peregrines and caused populations to plummet. After DDT was banned, the number of American peregrine pairs breeding in the U.S. increased from 324 in 1975 to 1,700 in 2000; the species was delisted in 1999.

AL(m), AK(b), AZ(b), AR(m), CA(b), CO(b), CT(b), DE(b), DC(m), GA(b), ID(b), IL(b), IN(b), IA(b), KS(m), KY(b), LA(m), ME(b), MD(b), MA(b), MI(b), MN(b), MS(m), MO(m), MT(b), NE(b), NV(b), NH(b), NY(b), NM(b), NJ(b), NC(b), ND(m), OH(b), OK(m), OR(b), PA(b), RI(b), SC(b), SD(b), TN(b), TX(b), UT(b), VT(b), VA(b), WA(b), WV(m), WI(b), WY(b) ---

California condor
Gymnogyps californianus

The California condor was nearly driven extinct by DDT, lead poisoning and hunting. It was listed as an endangered species in 1967 and given critical habitat in 1976. The population declined to 9 birds by 1985. A captive breeding and release program begun in 1987 increased the population to 279 birds in 2005.

AZ(b), CA(b) --- NV(x), OR(x), UT(x), WA(x)

Santa Cruz Island fox
Urocyon littoralis santacruzae

The Santa Cruz Island fox occurs only on Santa Cruz Island off the southern California Coast. It is threatened by disease from domestic dogs and predation by invasive golden eagles. The population declined catastrophically from 1,465 in 1994 to 60 in 2001. Due to captive breeding, relocation of golden eagles and introduction of bald eagles, the population grew to 150 wild and 62 captive foxes in 2005.

CA(b) ---

Santa Rosa Island fox
Urocyon littoralis santarosae

The Santa Rosa Island fox occurs only on Santa Rosa Island off the southern California Coast. It is threatened by disease from domestic dogs and predation by invasive golden eagles. The population declined catastrophically from 1,780 in 1994 to 14 in 1999. Due to captive breeding, relocation of golden eagles and introduction of bald eagles, the population grew to 32 wild and 34 captive foxes in 2005.

CA(b) ---

San Clemente loggerhead shrike
Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi
The San Clemente loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi) is endemic to San Clemente Island off the coast of southern California. Its habitat has been degraded by sheep, pigs, mule deer and goats since the late 1880s. The shrike declined to about 20 birds in the early 1900s and increased to about 50 in 1977; due to an active captive breeding and reintroduction program, the population began expanding in 1999, reaching a minimum of 135 captive and wild birds in 2004.

CA(b) ---

Inyo California towhee
Pipilo crissalis eremophilus
The Inyo California towhee was threatened by the destruction of its habitat by cattle, feral horses and burros, off-road vehicles, campers, and hikers. The range-wide population is believed to have been 100-200 birds between 1978 and 1987; and 725 in 2004.

CA(b) ---

Humpback whale
Megaptera novaeangliae
Humpback whale populations were greatly depleted by commercial whaling by the early 1900's. In 1966, the entire North Pacific humpback population was thought to number only around 1,200 animals; this estimate increased to between 6,000 and 8,000 by 1992.

AL(o), AK(s), CA(s), CT(s), DE(s), FL(s), GA(s), HI(s), LA(o), ME(s), MD(s), MA(s), MS(o), NI(s), NH(s), NY(s), NJ(s), NC(s), OR(s), PR(o), RI(s), SC(s), TX(o), VI(s), VA(s), WA(s) ---

Bighorn sheep (Peninsular ranges DPS)
Ovis canadensis pop. 2


Housing developments, agriculture, collisions with cars, predation by mountian lions and diseases contracted from domestic sheep caused declines in the Peninsular bighorn sheep. Peninsular bighorn sheep populations plummeted from 971 in 1971 to 276 in 1996, but since being listed as endangered in 1998 the number of bighorns has increased to 705.

CA(b) ---

California bighorn sheep (Sierra Nevada DPS)
Ovis canadensis pop. 3Hunting, disease and the introduction of domestic sheep resulted in a loss of around half of California's bighorn sheep subpopulations by the 1900s and by the 1970s only two remained In 1978 the number of sheep in the Sierra Nevada bighorn population was estimated to be 250; it increased to 300 in 1985, plunged to a historic low in 1995 and has since increased to 300 once again.

CA(b) ---

Light-footed clapper rail (U.S. DPS)
Rallus longirostris levipes


Declines in light-footed clapper rail populations were caused by the loss and degradation of the salt marshes and wetlands in which they live. Populations have fluctuated since listing, but show a clearly improving trend going from 203 pairs of birds in 1980 to 350 pairs in 2004.

CA(b) ---

Little Kern golden trout
Oncorhynchus mykiss whitei
The little kern golden trout was severely impacted by livestock grazing, logging and the introduction of exotic rainbow, brown and brook trout. Due to reductions in livestock grazing, elimination of non-native trout, and reintroductions, the species was restored to 60% of its historic range by 1990 and 100% by 1997.

CA(b) ---

California brown pelican
Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
DDT pollution, eventually traced back to a Los Angeles area factory, resulted in declines in the California brown pelican population. The number of California brown pelican nests dropped to a low of 466 in 1974, began increasing in 1979, and by 1987 rose to 7,900 nests; since then nest numbers have fluctuated around a mean of 5,000.

AZ(o), CA(b), OR(s), WA(s) ---

Least Bell's vireo
Vireo bellii pusillus
The least Bell's vireo was one of California's most abundant birds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but due to habitat loss and brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird , only 300 pairs of birds were estimated to remain in 1986. Intensive habitat protection and restoration and cowbird control led to increasing numbers and by 2004, there were an estimated 2,500 pairs of birds.

CA(b) ---

Gray wolf (Western DPS)
Canis lupus (Western DPS)


Hunting and persecution of gray wolves led to their extirpation in the western portion of the lower 48 states. Gray wolves began recolonizing the Rocky Mountain region in the early 1980s and currently 93 wolves are estimated to be in Montana, 294 in Greater Yellowstone, and 525 in Central Idaho.

ID(b), MT(b), OR(o), WA(o), WY(b) --- CA(x), CO(x), NV(x), UT(x)

Grizzly bear (Yellowstone DPS)
Ursus arctos horribilis (Yellowstone DPS)


The killing of grizzly bears and the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat caused drastic population declines in the lower 48 states; by 1975 only six populations remained. The number of grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone population has increased from an estimated 224 bears in 1975 to over 500 bears in 2005.

ID(b), MT(b), WA(b), WY(b) --- AZ(x), CA(x), CO(x), KS(x), MN(x), NE(x), NV(x), NM(x), ND(x), OK(x), OR(x), SD(x), TX(x), UT(x)

Bald eagle (Continental U.S. DPS)
Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Continental U.S. DPS)


The bald eagle declined throughout the Lower 48 states due to habitat loss and DDT application. The banning of DDT, increased habitat protection, and aggressive captive breeding and translocation programs caused the number of bald eagle pairs in the Lower 48 to soar from 416 in 1963 to approximately 9,789 in the latest census between 2004-2006.

AL(b), AZ(b), AR(b), CA(b), CO(b), CT(b), DE(b), DC(b), FL(b), GA(b), ID(b), IL(b), IN(b), IA(b), KS(b), KY(b), LA(b), ME(b), MD(b), MA(b), MI(b), MN(b), MS(b), MO(b), MT(b), NE(b), NV(b), NH(b), NY(b), NM(b), NJ(b), NC(b), ND(b), OH(b), OK(b), OR(b), PA(b), RI(b), SC(b), SD(b), TN(b), TX(b), UT(b), VT(b), VA(b), WA(b), WV(b), WI(b), WY(b) ---

California least tern
Sterna antillarum browni
In the late 19th century California least tern populations were impacted by the millinery trade; more recent declines have been due to development and recreational pressures that destroy beach habitat. In 1970, just 225 nesting least tern pairs were recorded in California, but protection of nesting beaches allowed the California population to increase to 6,561 pairs in 2004.

CA(b) ---

Western snowy plover (Pacific DPS)
Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus (Pacific DPS)

The snowy plover declined on the Pacific Coast due to habitat loss, disturbance of nest sites, and encroachment of European beach grass. When listed as an endangered species in 1993, the U.S. population was estimated at about 1,500. By 2005, the number of populations had increased and the total population size had grown to 2,300.
CA(b), OR(b), WA(b) ---

(b) currently breeds, (s) seasonally present, (m) migration route, (o) occasionally present, (x) extirpated

Photo © Phillip Colla