350 home Browse by region Browse by taxon Browse alphabetically Take action


Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates)
Range: portion of Alabama gulf coast
This small, sandy-colored mouse lives only in coastal sand- dune areas and contributes to its coastal dune ecosystem by collecting and distributing seeds. Primarily active at night, beach mice prefer sand-covered slopes with patches of sea oats, beach grass, and other grasses and herbs. Coastal development and roadway construction have placed this mouse on the endangered list, while hurricanes, tropical storms, and dune use by humans bring additional harmscasualties. Because beach mice live only in the dunes just above the high-tide line, rising waters, stronger hurricanes, and increasing storm surges caused by climate change jeopardize this coastal mouse and its habitat.
Alpine chipmunk (Tamias alpinus)
Range: California's Sierra Nevada
The Alpine chipmunk is native to the high elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada, rarely occurring below 8,200 feet. The little mammal nests in crevices between rocks and hibernates from November through April, frequently waking to eat. As climate change causes temperatures to increase in the Sierra Nevadas, this species has been forced to move upslope. In Yosemite National Park, the alpine chipmunk has shifted upward by more than 2,000 feet during the past 90 years. As temperatures continue to climb, the alpine chipmunk is in danger of running out of habitat.
American pika (Ochotona princeps)
Range: Mountains in western United States and Canada
This tiny rabbit relative, adapted to cold climates, lives in boulder fields near mountain peaks. Pikas can die from overheating when exposed to temperatures as low as 78 degrees Fahrenheit for just a few hours. Besides directly killing pikas through overheating, climate change threatens the mammals by exposing them to summer heat stress, shrinking snowpack that insulates them from winter cold snaps, shortening their food-gathering period, changing the types of food available, and shrinking the alpine meadows where they feed. Rising temperatures have already been linked to the loss of more than one-third of documented pika populations in the Great Basin Mountains. Climate change is projected to virtually eliminate suitable habitat for the pika in this century if greenhouse gas pollution is not drastically reduced.

Thanks to the Center's 2007 petition and 2008 lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide whether the pika should be protected under the Endangered Species Act by February 2010.
American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus)
Range: Small, fragmented, and semi-isolated populations in high-elevation habitat in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming; also possibly in Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota
The wolverine, the largest land-dwelling species in the mustelid family, is famous for its daring and tenacity — it’s been known to prey on animals as big as moose and to scare mountain lions and wolves off their kills. But the number of wolverines in the United States has dropped significantly in the past 100 years. Fewer than 500 wolverines left in the lower 48 states represent a distinct population. Wolverines depend on deep snow for denning to give birth and rear their young from February through early May. Climate change threatens the wolverine’s ability to raise young by reducing snowpack in the western mountains.

In September 2008, the Center and allies sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for deciding not to protect the wolverine and letting political considerations win out over scientific findings on the animal’s endangerment. The Service has agreed to re-examine the wolverine’s situation, with a new listing decision due in December 2010.
Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus or Vulpes lagopus)
Range: Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, North America, Greenland, and Iceland
The Arctic fox is well adapted to survive in some of the coldest places on the planet — the Arctic tundra and Arctic sea ice. A slumbering Arctic fox in winter will wrap its long, bushy tail around its body for added warmth; the fox’s feet are covered in dense fur to insulate against the cold and provide traction on the ice. As temperatures rise, the Arctic fox’s tundra and sea-ice habitat is shrinking, its lemming prey are becoming less abundant, and it faces increased competition and displacement by the red fox, which is moving northward as temperatures warm and trees invade the tundra.

Through an aggressive litigation and lobbying campaign, the Center has fought for increased protections for Arctic species that have been hit hard by the climate crisis.
Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus)
Range: Arctic and subarctic waters, including the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas off Alaska
The bearded seal is also called the square flipper seal, but it gets its common name from its most characteristic feature — conspicuous and very abundant whiskers. It’s a primary source of food for the polar bear. Bearded seal pups enter the water only hours after they’re born, and quickly become proficient divers. Bearded seals rely on the solid platform of the sea ice for giving birth, rearing pups, and resting. The rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice threatens the bearded seal’s ability to raise its young successfully. In the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska, the early retreat of the sea ice is also leading to reduction of the bearded seal’s bottom-dwelling prey.

In May 2008, the Center filed a scientific petition requesting that this seal be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by November 2010 whether the bearded seal warrants protection.
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Range: Primarily India and Bangladesh; also Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern Tibet
The Bengal tiger is a subspecies of tiger found primarily in India and Bangladesh. Current estimates suggest that there are fewer than 2,000 individuals of this particular subspecies remaining in the wild. The tiger has long awed humans with its remarkable size, great hunting ability, and beautiful coat. But Bengal tigers still face many human-caused threats, including climate change.

The last refuge for tigers in mangrove habitat is the labyrinth-like Sundarbans mangrove ecosystem of India and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the low elevation of the Sundarbans mangroves makes them vulnerable to increasing sea-level rise and stronger typhoons associated with climate change. Even modest levels of sea-level rise are expected to destroy and fragment the Sundarbans, jeopardizing one of the last strongholds for the tiger.
Black flying fox (Pteropus alecto)
Range: Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia
One of the largest bat species in the world, with a wingspan of more than one meter, black flying foxes have been known to travel up to 50 kilometers a night in search of food. A young black flying fox is carried by its mother for the first month of life, and left behind in the roost when the mother is out foraging at night. During the day, individuals reside in roosts, which can house of hundreds to tens of thousands of individuals. The black flying fox faces several threats, including loss of foraging and roosting habitat and mass die-offs caused by extreme temperature events, which are projected to increase with global warming.

Boto (Inia geoffrensis)
Range: Lakes and rivers of northern and central South America, particularly the Amazon and its tributaries
The boto, otherwise known as the Amazon River dolphin, is a freshwater species found throughout northern and central South America. As the boto matures, it changes in color from dark grey to pink and eventually to white. The boto’s unusual appearance, in addition to its ability to turn its head 180 degrees, has made it a mythological figure of great importance to native peoples. The boto may also be quite intelligent, with a brain 40 percent larger than a human’s.

Cetaceans with restricted ranges, like the boto, are thought to be particularly vulnerable to rising water temperatures. As river temperatures warm due to global warming, the boto may be unable to shift its range according to temperature conditions.
Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus)
Range: Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas in the western Arctic Ocean; Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic; Okhotsk Sea in Russia; and far North Atlantic Ocean
Four of the five remaining bowhead whale populations have fewer than 400 whales each, but the largest population is the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock, currently estimated at 10,000 individuals and rising. Gentle giants of the sea, bowhead whales live in the coldest, most remote reaches of the world’s oceans, amid the thick, omnipresent arctic pack ice. As global warming melts the bowhead’s icy abode, the bowhead is at risk from increasing offshore oil development and shipping activity in Arctic waters, which heighten threats from oil spills and ship strikes. Ocean acidification threatens the bowhead’s crustacean copepod and krill prey.

The Center has been fighting for protection of the whale’s home since 2000, when we filed a petition to designate 26.5 million acres as critical habitat for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock of bowheads.
Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus)
Range: 575 acres scattered along a 70-mile stretch of the west side of California’s Tulare Basin
With a voracious appetite for insects, a long snout, and beady little eyes, the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew is one intriguing mammal. Along with habitat destruction, the shrew population is also threatened by water diversions, agricultural expansion, pesticide spraying, selenium poisoning, and drought sure to worsen with global warming. The shrew is threatened by increasing precipitation extremes in California’s Central Valley, including drought that could dry up wetlands and flooding from periodic, extreme rainfall events.

As the result of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed in 2009 to review and redesignate habitat that’s critical for the survival and recovery of the one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.
Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)
Range: Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin (contiguous U.S. distinct population segment)
Canada lynx are made for hunting in deep snow, with thick cushions of hair on the soles of their feet that act like built-in snowshoes. Appropriately enough, this adaptation helps them stalk their favorite prey, the snowshoe hare — unlike any other cat, the Canada lynx relies almost exclusively on the snowshoe hare for food. The lynx’s ability to hunt its favorite prey is intertwined with snow conditions. And deep snow plays another role in the lynx’s survival by excluding its main competitors for prey — coyotes and bobcats — and allowing the lynx to escape its own predator, the mountain lion. But warming winters can affect the texture, depth, and extent of snow cover. Climate change may also impact survival of the lynx’s primary habitat — boreal and alpine forests.

Thanks to a Center lawsuit, a judge ruled in 2008 that Minnesota was in violation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing traps that harm and kill Canada lynx.
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)
Range: Canada, Alaska, Selkirk Mountains of northeastern Washington and northern Idaho
Caribou are the only deer (other than reindeer) whose females have antlers. Today, many caribou herds are in decline, and global warming is believed to be one cause. Migratory caribou seasonally move along traditional pathways to reach areas with the most plentiful food and the fewest predators and insects. As plant growth shifts earlier due to climate change, fewer caribou calves survive because their mothers have been unable to adjust the calving season to match changes in plant growth timing, and the animals aren’t getting enough to eat. As temperatures warm, parasites and predators may increase in the northern regions where caribou migrate to take refuge.

Thanks to a 2009 lawsuit by Center and allies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to consider habitat protections for the woodland caribou, the only caribou remaining in the lower 48 states. A Center suit also spurred a court decision banning snowmobiles from 470 square miles of essential woodland caribou habitat.
Choctawhatchee beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus Allophrys)
Range: Florida’s Topsail Hill, Shell Island, and Grayton Beach
Beach mice burrow and excavate nests in sand dunes. Their burrows typically have a main hole that acts as a front door and a second hole, or back door, often used to escape predators. That back door, however, won’t be much help in the fight against global warming. The Choctawhatchee beach mouse has survived thousands of years since barrier islands were formed, but the continued survival of this tiny endangered mouse depends on healthy dunes ecosystem. With global warming producing rising tide lines and increase storm surge, dune ecosystems — already suffering under development and overuse — face further challenges, as does this tiny mouse.

Thanks to a suit by the Center, in 2000 this beach mouse received almost 700 acres of federally protected habitat.
Collared pika (Ochotona collaris)
Range: Mountainous regions of western North America
The collared pika is closely related to the American pika, and like its relative, it lives in high-elevation alpine boulder fields. The collared pika spends a large part of its time in the summer collecting grasses and flowers that it stores in haypiles under boulders as its food supply during winter. It makes thousands of trips during July and August to collect food for winter.

Because collared pikas don’t hibernate but remain active under snow-topped boulder fields during the winter, they rely on the protective snowpack to provide insulation during the coldest winter spells. Climate change-related reductions in snowpack threaten this species. A collapse in pika populations in Canada’s Yukon was linked to warmer winters and less winter snowpack, which exposed pikas to cold extremes, and to late winter snowfall, which delayed the start of the growing season for the pika’s plant food.
Colombian woolly monkey (Lagothrix lugens)
Range: Columbia and possibly Venezuela
Colombian woolly monkeys greet each other by kissing each other on the mouth and embracing. These critically endangered monkeys live in groups of 10 to 45 individuals, which peacefully share their territory with other troops. They are arboreal and use their powerful, prehensile tails to suspend their large bodies from branches (and sometimes as an extra hand). Woolly monkey infants, nursed by their mothers for as many as 20 months, can cling to their mother's fur immediately after birth. When they’ve matured, young female monkeys leave home to join a male in another troop, while young males stay in their birthplace.

Researchers have found that woolly monkey populations decline one year after El Niño events, which affect food availability for these fruit-eaters. Researchers have warned that the intensification of El Niño events due to climate change may further endanger this vulnerable primate.
Cook Inlet beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas)
Range: Alaska’s Cook Inlet
The snowy white Cook Inlet beluga swims in an ocean chock-full of dangers such as pollution, oil drilling, and global warming. The isolated Cook Inlet beluga whale population must also contend with the increasingly perilous and industrialized waters near Anchorage, Alaska’s fastest-growing city. Ocean acidification, which will have some of the most severe impacts in Arctic waters, threatens the beluga’s prey. Warming water temperatures also threaten Cook Inlet salmon runs, which are an important food for the beluga.

In response to a petition by the Center and our partners, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed in 2007 to list the whale as endangered — and then received more than 150,000 public comments in support of endangered status.
Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus)
Range: southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey
The Delmarva Fox Squirrel is an endangered subspecies of fox squirrel whose historical range included the Delmarva Peninsula, southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The squirrel’s range has been reduced by 90% and it’s now only found on the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland. Like all fox squirrels, the Delmarva has a full, fluffy tail. The Delmarva fox squirrel is frosty silver to slate gray with a white belly and can grow to be 30 inches long with 15 inches of tail! Their preferred habitat is mature forest of both hardwood and pine trees with an open, park-like understory.

Climate change is predicted to more frequently bring consecutive years with similar weather patterns including drought conditions. One study found that a climate trend towards longer periods of unfavorable conditions for fox squirrels could increase the extinction risk of isolated populations.
Eastern moose (Alces alces americana)
Range: From Maine and Nova Scotia west through Quebec and central Ontario, and from Hudson Bay south to the Great Lakes
The name moose is derived from the Algonquian Eastern Abnaki word moz, which loosely translates to “twig eater.” The animal called “moose” in North America and “common elk” in Europe is the largest extant species in the deer family. An adult moose can be as tall as seven feet at the shoulder, and males weigh between 850 and 1,580 pounds. Moose are distinguished by the males’ palmate antlers — in which the lobes radiate from a common area. Other members of the deer family have antlers with a twig-like configuration.

Warming temperatures have contributed to an explosion of white-tailed deer population in some areas, which carry a parasitic worm that’s devastating to moose. Global warming is also allowing dog ticks to expand northward in Maine, which hurts moose in the Northeast. Finally, hot weather causes moose to rest more and forage less — and moose depend on summer foraging to survive the winters.
False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
Range: Rare but widespread; sited in Mediterranean, Red Sea, Atlantic, Pacific, Indian oceans
Even though it resembles the orca and can attack and kill other cetaceans, the false killer whale is actually one of the larger members of the oceanic dolphin family, living in tropical waters throughout the world. False killer whales can grow as long as 16 feet and weigh over one ton. A recent study found that the population of false killer whales in waters close to Hawaii appears to have dramatically declined over the past 20 years, likely a result of declining food supplies and longline fishing lines that stretch as many as 50 miles from some commercial fishing vessels and catch and kill them. False killer whales are at risk from ocean acidification, a result of CO2 emissions that threatens the entire ocean food web.

The Center and allies sued for false killer whales in Hawaii waters in 2009, challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service for its failure to devise a plan to protect the mammals from Hawaii’s longline fishery.
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Range: Oceans worldwide
The fin whale swims all the major oceans, from polar to tropical waters. Despite its enormity – it’s the second largest whale and the planet’s second largest animal after the blue whale – it’s among the fastest cetaceans and can sustain speeds of 23 miles per hour. Like other large whales, the fin whale was heavily hunted: Almost 750,000 fin whales from the southern hemisphere alone were killed between 1904 and 1979, and fewer than 3,000 currently remain.

The fin whale feeds on krill, consuming up to 4,000 pounds in a day. But krill is declining, and one possible cause is loss of sea ice due to climate change. Krill graze on algae that grow on the underside of the ice, and young krill rely on caves and crevices in the ice as refuge from predators. Increased carbon dioxide absorption by our oceans presents another grave threat to krill: ocean acidification, which alters the chemistry of sea water to make it more difficult for krill to form protective exoskeletons.
Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus)
Range: Florida
Manatees, sometimes referred to as sea cows, are large, aquatic marine mammals related to elephants that spend much of their time resting and gently grazing on seagrasses and other vegetation in warm, shallow waters. The population of manatees in Florida is thought to be between 1,000 and 3,000, and they’ve been known to live up to 60 years. The leading cause of death is boat strikes, which kill manatees and leave propeller wounds on the survivors. The number of manatee deaths in Florida caused by humans has been increasing, and now typically accounts for 20 to 40 percent of recorded deaths. Sea-level rise and changes in water flow that increase water turbidity threaten the manatee’s main food source of seagrasses that grow in shallow, relatively clear waters. Hurricane intensity and storm surge will increase with climate change, which may directly kill manatees or impact their food supply, leading to impaired manatee health and reproduction.

In response to a petition by the Center and allies, in 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed that new habitat protections may be warranted for the manatee.
Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi)
Range: Primarily a 3,548-square-mile area in south Florida’s Everglades region, with some panthers sited in various Florida counties north of the Caloosahatchee River
A reserved, stealthy predator of enormous physical grace and power, the Florida panther is one of the most majestic large felines in the wild, and tragically, it’s the only large feline remaining in the Southeast. Once found throughout the southeast United States, the Florida panther now occupies only about 5 percent of its former range, and it numbers just 100 to 120 individual cats. By far the greatest threats to Florida panthers are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation — all driven by Florida’s burgeoning human population and the developments and highways that accommodate it. Sea-level rise, estimated to reach 1 meter or more by 2100, will inundate and eliminate a large portion of the panther’s remaining habitat in Florida’s low-lying Everglades.

The Center petitioned for the protection of roughly 3 million acres of critical habitat for the panther in September 2009.
Fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes)
Range: Texas’ Trans-Pecos region in summer
The fringed myotis is a species of vesper bat found in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It occurs in a variety of habitats including desert-scrub, fir-pine, and oak and pinyon woodlands. It may roost in caves, mines, or buildings. Fringed bats are known to migrate, but little is known about their migration patterns.
Bats that inhabit arid regions, like the fringed myotis, are vulnerable to climate change because they need sufficient standing water for drinking. Standing water sources in arid areas are particularly important for nursing females, which need to drink much more than other bats to produce milk. One study concluded that predicted loss of water resources in the western United States due to climate change would lead to declines in regional bat populations, particularly by hurting bat reproduction.
Geoffrey's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
Range: Central America
The Geoffrey’s spider monkey is one of the largest New World monkeys, as well as one of the smartest. A 2007 study concluded that spider monkeys were the third-most intelligent nonhuman primate, behind only orangutans and chimpanzees. One example: the Geoffrey’s spider monkey has been seen rubbing a mixture of saliva and ground lime-tree leaves on its fur, which is believed to act as an insect repellent. Each spider monkey makes a unique sound; this helps the monkeys recognize each other, call other group members to food, maintain vocal contact with their group while traveling, and distinguish between group members and nongroup members. These monkeys also use nonvocal communication: A curled tail or arched back may be a threat display, while a head shake is either a threat or an invitation to play; shaking branches or swaying arms is a warning of danger. Habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade have led the Geoffrey’s spider monkey to be declared endangered.

Researchers have found that Geoffrey’s spider monkey populations decline one year after El Niño events, which affect food availability for these fruit-eaters. Researchers have warned that the intensification of El Niño events due to climate change may further imperil this already endangered primate.
Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens)
Range: California’s Carrizo Plain
The giant kangaroo rat, an endangered rodent species that exists only in California, is the largest of the kangaroo rats, measuring about six inches — not including its long, tufted tail. As with other k-rats, its long, strong hind legs enable it to hop at high speeds. It lives in colonies and communicates by drumming its feet both to warn of approaching danger and as a territorial communication. This species currently inhabits less than 2 percent of its original range. Reductions in rainfall and increasing drought due to climate change threaten this species. The amount and timing of rainfall in the kangaroo’s arid home can strongly influence kangaroo rat population dynamics. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds the kangaroo rat eats and to more green vegetation, containing water necessary for lactation, that females need to successfully nurse their young.
Gray-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)
Range: Australia
Gray-headed flying foxes may return to the same roost over several decades and some sites may even pre-date human settlement in Australia, where this fruit bat resides. It’s very long-lived for a mammal of its size, with reports of individuals surviving in captivity for up to 23 years. The gray-headed flying fox is the only mammalian pollenivore, nectarivore, and frugivore to occupy substantial areas of subtropical rainforests, so it’s of key importance to those forests. This fruit bat was once abundant, with numbers in the many millions, but it declined by 30 percent between 1989 and 2001 and now numbers fewer than 400,000. Among the threats to this bat: mass die-offs caused by extreme temperature events when bats fall from the trees due to heat stress. Researchers found that more than 24,500 gray-headed flying foxes have died from extreme heat events since 1994. This is of increasing concern for the species’ survival now that climate models predict significant increases in the intensity, duration, and frequency of such temperature extremes.
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus)
Range: Shallow coastal waters of eastern North Pacific
The eastern North Pacific gray whale is believed to make the longest yearly migration of any mammal, traveling in two to three months an amazing 16,000 to 22,000 kilometers at an average speed of only five kilometers per hour. During the summer, gray whales bulk up in the arctic waters off Alaska, scooping up gigantic mouthfuls of mud from the ocean bottom and filtering out bottom-dwelling critters. Come fall, they make the epic journey to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja California to give birth and nurse their young.

In recent years, increasing numbers of malnourished gray whales have been observed all along their migratory route, and scientists believe that ocean warming may be decreasing their food supply. The rapid loss of arctic sea ice appears to be lowering the abundance of bottom-dwelling prey for gray whales in traditional foraging grounds off Alaska. Gray whales are also beginning their southbound migration later, which means they spend less time in calving lagoons nursing their young.
Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Range: Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, possibly southern Colorado, and western Canada
Traditional Blackfeet Indians believed the grizzly bear to be our closest animal relative. Yet today, grizzlies occupy less than 2 percent of their original range due to a mass kill-off of the bears both for profit and from fear. While the bears are mostly protected in the lower 48 states, they’re still hunted in Alaska and parts of Canada. Grizzlies now face the additional threat of global warming, which imperils one of the Yellowstone grizzly population’s key food sources: whitebark pine nuts. Studies show that bears that eat lots of whitebark pine nuts before hibernating survive better and have more cubs. However, rising temperatures are shrinking the range of whitebark pine and may make it more susceptible to mountain pine beetle attacks.

In 2007, the Yellowstone bear population was removed from the endangered species list. The Center filed suit with six other conservation organizations. In response to another case, in 2009 the court restored protections for Yellowstone grizzlies, citing in part the decline in their food sources due to global warming.
Harp seal (Phoca groenlandica)
Range: North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from northern Russia, to Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada
The harp seal’s primary predators are humans, who have hunted them for fur, oil, and meat for more than 4,000 years, and more recently to stop the seals from competing for food with commercial fisheries. Harp seals rely on the presence of stable sea-ice floes during specific times of the year, and the melting and thinning of sea ice threatens their survival. Harp seals need stable ice floes during spring to give birth and nurse their pups. In years when sea ice breaks up during the nursing period, scientists have documented high pup mortality. Weaned pups need to rest on stable sea ice for several weeks before they enter the icy waters to learn how to hunt for themselves, and the melting of sea ice during this crucial period jeopardizes pup survival. Further, adults need ice floes for courtship and molting, when they replace their old fur coat with a new one.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinsland)
Range: Throughout Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with an increasing population on the main islands
The Hawaiian monk seal, known to native Hawaiians as ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, or “dog that runs in rough water,” now faces much worse conditions than choppy waves. Thanks to threats like limited food availability, entanglement in fishing gear, predation, and disease, this federally endangered seal has seen dramatic population declines in the last half-century that have left it one of the world’s most imperiled marine mammals. Add to those threats the ever-worsening effects of global warming — which interferes with delicate marine ecosystems and causes sea-level rise that endangers seal pupping beaches — and it’s no surprise that the Hawaiian monk seal’s population is expected to plunge to less than 1,000 animals in the next few years.

The Center petitioned to grant the seal protected habitat on the main Hawaiian islands — and in June 2009, the Obama administration agreed to do so, in addition to expanding protections in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhychus hectori)
Range: New Zealand coastal waters
The Hector’s dolphin is one of the smallest and rarest cetaceans in the world. Endemic to New Zealand, Hector’s dolphins can be divided up into four genetically distinct subpopulations, with the Maui subset having around 100 remaining individuals. The greatest threats to Hector’s dolphin are commercial fisheries and boat disturbances, though climate change poses an ever-increasing danger.

Coastal cetacean species with small populations and restricted ranges, like the Hector’s dolphin, are thought to be quite vulnerable to climate change. Warming ocean waters and changing currents are likely to affect food availability in these animals’ ranges, leading to potential repercussions for breeding success and increased susceptibility to disease and contaminants.
Hooded seal (Cystophora cristata)
Range: Svalbard, north of Norway, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada
The arctic hooded seal is named for the male’s inflatable hood, which extends from his nose to his forehead, but even more striking is the adult male’s inflatable red nasal membrane, which he can blow up like a balloon to impress females and compete with other males for their attention. Female hooded seals give birth on sea ice in traditional areas and nurse their pups for an average of only four days, the shortest lactation period of any mammal. During those four days, pups double in size because their mothers’ milk has a fat content of 60 percent.

The early breakup and decreasing stability of sea ice in the traditional areas where hooded seals give birth and nurse their pups threatens the hooded seal’s survival. Weaned pups need to rest on sea ice for several weeks before they enter the icy waters to learn how to hunt for themselves, and the melting of sea ice during this crucial period means they may not live to see adulthood.
Human being (Homo sapiens)
Range: Global
Homo sapiens, the Latin name for the modern human species, means “wise man.” Modern humans evolved in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. As of 2009, there are more than 6.8 billion of us on Earth. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving, but can they put these qualities to use when it comes to the man-made challenge posed by global warming?

Health and climate scientists believe that global warming is already responsible for some 150,000 deaths each year, and they fear that the number may well double by 2030. Global warming also contributes to some 5 million human illnesses every year. Some of the ways global warming negatively affects human health — especially in poorer nations — include: speeding the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever; creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea; and increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, and other weather-related disasters. Studies have also found a direct link between rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and increased human mortality. Added air pollution caused by each degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by CO2 leads to about 1,000 additional deaths in the United States and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma.
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)
Range: Midwestern, southern, and eastern United States, from the Ozarks to Vermont and from northern Florida to southern Wisconsin
The Indiana bat is one of the rarest and most vulnerable of its kind. Every year, Indiana bats gather in “swarms” at chosen hibernating spots to mate, swooping in and out of caves from dusk till dawn. The species’ long-term decline began in the early 1800s as its wintering sites or “hibernacula” were disturbed by mining, tourism, and other activities. In the decades since, these bats have been hit hard by habitat loss — and in 2007 a perplexing and deadly new threat to bats, called white-nose syndrome, first appeared in the Northeast and began killing hundreds of thousands of the animals, including Indiana bats. Global warming could boost temperatures inside the limestone caves these bats use for roosting, contributing to winter weight loss and higher mortality rates for the bats.

After a January 2008 Center petition, the Forest Service closed all caves and abandoned mines in 33 eastern and southern states to help stop the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect endangered bats, including the Indiana bats.
Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Range: North from Argentina to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands
Revered as deities amongst the Mayan and Aztec peoples, jaguars once roamed from South America through the southern and central United States. But they were reduced through Spanish bounties and fur hunting, and the last U.S. animals were systematically hunted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 20th century, only to reappear sporadically through migration from Mexico. As global climate trends move toward hotter, drier environments, jaguars’ recovery in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands may become even more important to the survival of the whole species as climate change pushes the animals northward.

The Center sued three times to obtain a recovery plan and critical habitat designation for the jaguar; has defended it from government traps, snares, and poisons; and opposed walling off the U.S.-Mexico border to ensure that jaguars have access to the full extent of their range. In March 2009, a judge struck down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to grant the jaguar a recovery plan and protected habitat.
Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)
Range: Small stretch of the Florida Keys from Sugarloaf Key to Bahia Honda Key
The key deer is believed to have migrated to the Florida Keys from the mainland over a land bridge during the Wisconsin glaciation. The earliest known written reference to key deer comes from the writings of a shipwrecked Spanish sailor in the 1550s. The range of the key deer originally encompassed all of the lower Florida Keys, but is now limited to a stretch of the Florida Keys from about Sugarloaf Key to Bahia Honda Key. Hunting key deer was banned in 1939, but widespread poaching and habitat destruction caused the subspecies to plummet to near-extinction by the 1950s — only 25 are estimated to have existed in 1955 — with numbers now up to between 300 and 800. Global warming brings additional threats of rising sea levels and increased storm intensity that may largely eliminate the key deer’s upland habitat on the low-lying Florida Keys. In Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key, the plant community has already shifted to more salt-tolerant species in the last 20 years as sea levels have risen. Sea-level rise in this century is predicted to virtually eliminate the deer’s upland pine forest and hardwood hammock habitat on Big Pine Key.
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Range: Coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia
A much-beloved emblem of Australia, the koala is one of the world’s most popular marsupials. Nearly hunted to extinction in the early 20th century for its fur, the animal is now facing threats from habitat loss, urbanization, and climate change.

Scientists have found that increases in CO2 could lower the nutritional value of the koala’s plant food — the leaves of eucalyptus trees. As CO2 increases in the atmosphere, eucalyptus trees are more likely to increase the amount of carbon-based “anti-nutrients” in their leaves, which interfere with the koala’s ability to digest its food. Thanks to global warming, the eucalyptus trees that koalas prefer today may no longer provide nutritious-enough leaves for koalas in the future.
Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri)
Range: Lower Florida Keys
With a scientific name given in honor of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the Lower Keys marsh rabbit is an endangered subspecies of marsh rabbit with short- dark-brown fur and a grayish-white belly. Marsh rabbits are more aquatic than swamp rabbits, taking to water readily, and are excellent swimmers due to the fact that their hind legs have less fur and longer nails than typical cottontails. Because they live on low-lying islands, marsh rabbits will lose most of their habitat with even moderate levels of sea-level rise — 0.6 meters — and virtually all of their habitat with 0.9 meters of sea-level rise.

The Center profiled the Lower Keys marsh rabbit in our groundbreaking report on pesticides and endangered species, Silent Spring Revisited. We defend the rabbit and countless other pesticides-affected species through our Pesticides Reduction Campaign.
Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus bailey)
Range: Arizona and New Mexico
The smallest gray wolf subspecies in North America, the Mexican gray wolf is also one of the rarest and most endangered mammals on the continent. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (and its predecessor agency) poisoned and trapped almost all Mexican wolves from the wild from 1915 until 1973; the last five survivors, captured between 1977 and 1980, were bred in captivity and their progeny reintroduced in 1998. At the end of 2008, only two Mexican wolf breeding pairs remained in the wild. Mexican wolves are threatened by drought which may lower prey numbers and bring the wolves into greater conflict with the livestock industry.

In 2009, we petitioned to protect the Mexican gray wolf separately from other U.S. gray wolves, as an endangered subspecies or a “distinct population segment” — which would compel the development of an updated federal recovery plan.
Mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus)
Range: Alpine and sub-alpine zones in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia
This tiny possum is one of only a few hibernating marsupials. Its has a thick-furred, mouse-like body, enlarged front teeth, a long tail, nimble front feet designed for gathering food, and strong back feet for gripping. Before an individual possum was found alive in 1966, this species was known only from fossils. The mountain pygmy possum requires a snow depth of at least one meter for adequate insulation during hibernation. With global warming , snowfalls are projected to decrease, and this decreasing snow — combined with shrinking habitat and increased predation from foxes and cats — could lead to this pocket-sized possum’s extinction.
Mt. Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis)
Range: Graham Mountains of southeastern Arizona
The Mt. Graham red squirrel lives on a single mountaintop in southern Arizona. That mountaintop is also the site of an observatory built by the University of Arizona. The famous squirrel was placed on the endangered species list in 1987 because development, logging, and fire were destroying its habitat. The federal government has found that at least 100 to 300 years will be needed to restore some forested areas of squirrel habitat. Global warming may cause a retreat of the squirrel’s forests up the mountain, further reducing or eliminating red squirrel habitat.
Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus)
Range: Arctic areas of Canada, Greenland, and Alaska
The musk ox, or its ancestor, is believed to have migrated to North America between 200,000 and 90,000 years ago. Alive in the Pleistocene period, the musk ox was a contemporary of the mammoth. Among this species’ distinguishing attributes: Males use a musky odor to attract females during mating season, and when the herd is threatened, adult musk oxen face outward to form a ring around the calves. Though effective against predators such as wolves, this configuration makes them an easy target for human hunters.

It’s thought that the musk ox survived the last ice age by finding ice-free areas away from prehistoric peoples, but as temperatures warm thanks to climate change, increasing rain-on-snow events may jeopardize musk oxen. When rain falls on top of snowpack and freezes into a sheet of ice, musk oxen are unable to break through the ice to browse on plants underneath and can starve. In 2003, about 20,000 musk oxen starved to death due to a rain-on-snow event.
Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
Range: Predominantly in the Atlantic and Russian areas of the Arctic
The narwhal — the unicorn of the sea — is actually a toothed whale that lives year round in the Arctic. Its best-known feature: the male’s long, straight, spiraled tusk. In summer, narwhals rear their calves in coastal bays and fjords, while in winter narwhals move to traditional offshore areas covered with heavy pack ice, where they dive to depths of up to 4,500 feet to find halibut and cod and rely on few-and-far-between cracks in the sea ice to breathe. The remarkable narwhal is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its narrow geographical range, habitat specificity, and specialized diet. Decreasing sea-ice cover over its wintering grounds may reduce the availability of its main prey species. Shrinking sea-ice cover is also increasing the abundance of one of the narwhal’s main predators — the killer whale — in areas like Hudson Bay that were previously inaccessible due to heavy ice cover. The melting ice is also exposing some narwhal populations to more human hunting.
North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Range: Atlantic Ocean, particularly between 20° and 60° latitude.
The North Atlantic right whale’s scientific name is Eubalaena glacialis, which means “good, or true, whale of the ice.” About 400 of these whales live in the North Atlantic Ocean, migrating between feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine and calving areas in Georgia and Florida. Dangerously, their paths collide with heavily used shipping routes, and between 1970 and 1999, 35.5 percent of recorded right whale deaths were attributed to ship strikes. North Atlantic right whales are also threatened by climate change because they appear to have better calf survival when Calanus copepod prey are abundant, and climate change influences the abundance of this prey species.

To protect the North Atlantic right whale, the Center petitioned for critical habitat for the species in 2009.
Northern Rocky Moutains gray wolf (Canis lupus irremotus)
Range: northern Rocky Mountains of the United States
Conflicts with the livestock industry led to the gray wolf being extirpated from the West by 1945. Today, the wolf has a new image as a social creature with an indispensible role in ecosystems — and Endangered Species Act protection has given it a new chance to thrive. But, global warming brings new threats.
Northern Rockies wolves are threatened by the loss of the harsh winters that make their prey more vulnerable in the winter and spring – which may also bring them into greater conflict with the livestock industry.

In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the wolves federal protection. Wolves began falling victim to bullets — so a coalition of groups, including the Center, filed suit. Ultimately, a judge agreed that the wolves’ delisting was likely unlawful but hasn’t halted wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.
North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica)
Range: Sightings generally occur in mouth of the Sea of Okhotsk and in eastern Bering Sea
Whalers named the North Pacific right whale thinking that these were the “right whales” to kill because they’re slow swimmers, they swim within sight of shore, and their carcasses float. Thus it’s no surprise that, though once abundant, the North Pacific right whale is now the most endangered whale in the world, with likely fewer than 50 individuals left today. With the melting of sea ice due to climate change, the food web in the Bering Sea — the North Pacific right whale’s summering grounds — is changing dramatically. The combined effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification may reduce the abundance of the right whale’s plankton prey. And increasing offshore oil development and shipping activity in increasingly ice-free Arctic waters heightens threats from oil spills and ship strikes.

In 2000, the Center formally requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service protect the whale’s critical habitat. After years of inaction, the Center sued, and eventually, the Fisheries Service designated critical habitat in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
Okinawa dugong (Dugong dugong)
Range: Coastal waters of Okinawa, Japan
Dugongs, distant relatives of the manatee, can live for 70 years and grow to nearly 1,000 pounds. Yet somehow these gentle creatures have been mistaken for mermaids. After decades of U.S. military operations in Japan’s Henoko Bay, possibly fewer than 50 dugongs struggle to survive in Okinawa — once dubbed the “Galapagos of the East” for its rich biodiversity. Today, they also face the additional threat of global warming. Climate change may result in increased tropical sea surface temperatures, increased tropical rainfall, and consequently more frequent and intense hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones. Global warming has the potential to interfere with the dugong’s feeding, migration, reproduction, and ultimately abundance.

In 2003, the Center led a coalition of Japanese and American environmental groups in suing the U.S. Department of Defense to halt the construction of an American airbase in Henoko Bay. In 2008, a federal judge ruled against the Department of Defense.
Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus)
Range: California
The critically imperiled Pacific pocket mouse was feared extinct for nearly 20 years before the species was “rediscovered” in 1993. In winter, if environmental factors become unfavorable, the Pacific pocket mouse may hibernate underground until spring brings better conditions. But if adequate food supplies are available, the mouse will remain active during winter. Climate change may further tip the balance toward extinction for this species. The Pacific pocket mouse often doesn’t reproduce in years with below-average precipitation, making projected increases in drought a threat.

In 2000, the Center, Endangered Habitats League, and the National Resources Defense Council petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect critical habitat for the pocket mouse.
Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)
Range: Arctic waters of Bering and Chukchi seas between Alaska and Siberia, as well as eastern Siberian Sea and western Beaufort Sea
With tusks like an elephant and weighing up to 4,500 pounds, the Pacific walrus is one blubbery beast. Female walruses and their calves follow the sea ice year-round and rely on the safety of ice floes for nursing and resting, since they can’t swim continuously. Global warming has already significantly reduced sea ice the Pacific walrus needs for resting, giving birth, and nursing young. When the sea ice retreats from the feeding grounds, females and calves are forced to come ashore, where the young are vulnerable to predators and to being trampled to death in abnormally large herds. In 2007, 3,000 to 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death in Siberia, while in 2009, 133 young walruses were trampled to death in Alaska. The walrus’s feeding grounds are also being auctioned off to oil companies to extract more fossil fuels.

In 2008, the Center petitioned to protect the walrus under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming, and in 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a positive finding on our petition.
Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis cremnobates)
Range: California south into Baja California, Mexico
Peninsular bighorn sheep can get water from cacti, splitting the spiny barrel cactus with their horns and eating its watery insides. Up to 2 million bighorns roamed North America at the turn of the 20th century, but now only 70,000 remain. Peninsular bighorns, a so-called “distinct population segment” of these, number only in the hundreds. Still, their population has grown since they were federally protected. Researchers have linked population extinctions of Peninsular bighorns in California to higher temperatures and lower precipitation in lower-elevation mountains of its range. As California’s climate continues to warm and become drier, researchers predict that the probability of the bighorn’s extinction will increase significantly in the next 60 years.

Thanks to the Center, these bighorns currently lay claim to nearly 850,000 acres of critical habitat. In 2007, we scored a big victory for part of that habitat when we won an injunction preventing development-associated grading in California’s Chino Canyon.
Perdido Key beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis)
The Perdido Key beach mouse, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, has a small body, hairy tail, large ears, and protuberant eyes. A nocturnal herbivore, it lives in the dunes that are located just above the high-tide line, feeding primarily on the seeds of sea oats and beach grass — and sometimes invertebrates. A variety of animals live with beach mice in these dune habitats, including the six-lined racer, monarch butterflies, snowy plovers, and coachwhip snakes. Global warming’s rising waters and increasing storm surges threaten the beach mouse because they live only in dune habitats. These mice are at high risk of extinction if their habitat is destroyed.

In 2003, the Center and Sierra Club filed suit to increase federal protection for the Perdido Key beach mouse’s coastal habitat.
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
Range: In and around Arctic Ocean
Though the polar bear is a mighty hunter and fierce defender of its young, it’s among the world’s most climate change-threatened animals. Polar bears live throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic and are totally reliant on the sea ice for essential activities, including hunting and feeding on seals, seeking mates and breeding, making long-distance movements, and in some cases building dens on the ice to rear cubs. Global warming is affecting the Arctic far more rapidly and intensely than the rest of the world, causing the bears’ sea-ice habitat to melt away. Scientists estimate that if the Arctic continues its melting trend, two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will go extinct by 2050, while the rest will near extinction by the end of the century.

Thanks to a Center petition and Center-led legal action, the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 — though both the Bush and Obama administrations have refused to let the listing affect U.S. climate policy. We’re currently working to achieve true protections for the bear, simultaneously defending its listing from attempts to overturn it.
Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei)
Range: Wyoming and Colorado
Endemic to Colorado and Wyoming, the tiny Preble’s meadow jumping mouse escapes predators and threats with an incredible four-foot jump. Unfortunately, evading climate change will prove much more difficult. The jumping mouse hibernates in winter, using stored fat to sustain its energy needs. Warmer winter temperatures can arouse hibernating mice from their slumber, which can significantly deplete their energy reserves. Researchers have found that females survive better during long, cold winters, likely because colder winters lead to less energy-burning arousals. In addition, decreased snowpack, earlier spring runoff, and lower summer flows may make their riparian habitat less suitable.

The Preble’s has jumped on and off the endangered species list several times within the past decade, and the Center is currently involved in litigation to reinstate full federal protection for this prairie denizen.
Puget Sound killer whale (Orcinus orca)
Range: Puget Sound, Juan de Fuca Strait, Haro Strait, and Georgia Strait
Orcas, more commonly known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable — and beloved — marine mammals. Sadly, that’s not enough to guarantee their continued survival, particularly in the case of the genetically distinct Puget Sound subpopulation. While many orcas prey on marine mammals, the killer whales of Puget Sound subsist largely on Chinook salmon. Climatic changes affecting the health of the Chinook will have far-reaching consequences for the orcas. Climate change is thought to pose a major threat to the cold-water Chinook: Rising temperatures and altered river flows, caused by changing precipitation and snow-melt patterns, impede the survival of eggs, fry, smolts, and adults, as well as the ability of adults to migrate upstream for spawning.

The Center has done groundbreaking work to protect this unique group of orcas, including assembling a team of scientists and activists that ultimately predicted extinction for this population within the next 100 years — unless drastic action is taken.
Red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus)
Range: Western Amazon Basin of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil
After hearing the howler monkey’s roar, no one would question that this primate was appropriately named. The monkey’s earth-shaking calls, which can be heard miles away, are used by monkey troops to make their presence known and avoid confrontations with other troops, usually over food. Howler monkeys are among the largest of the New World monkeys, with nine species currently recognized. They can be seen high in the forest canopy using their long, prehensile tails to grab branches and living in groups of up to nine individuals. These groups contain only one or two males, which each have several female mates.

Researchers have found that red howler monkey populations decline during El Niño events, which affect food availability. The intensification of El Niño events due to climate change puts the red howler monkey in further peril.
Ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata)
Range: Endemic to the western and central North Pacific Ocean
Easily distinguished by the striking white ribbon bands trisecting its dense black fur, the ribbon seal is both one of the most beautiful and the most elusive of the true seals. Ribbon seals rely on ice floes at the edge of the sea ice as a safe place away from predators for giving birth and nursing their pups. The melting and early breakup of this sea-ice habitat threatens the seal’s ability to successfully rear its young. At least 40 percent of the ribbon seal’s winter sea ice habitat in the Bering Sea off Alaska is projected to disappear by 2050.

The Center is currently involved in litigation against U.S. Fish and Wildlife for declining to list the species as endangered after we petitioned to protect it in late 2007 — and with mounting scientific evidence showing listing is necessary to save the seal.
Ringed seal (Pusa hispida)
Range: Arctic and subarctic waters, including the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas off Alaska
The ringed seal, which is the primary prey for polar bears, is the only seal species that makes and maintains breathing holes in the ice, thus allowing it to use ice habitat that other seals can’t. Ringed seals excavate snow caves on sea ice to provide hidden, insulated shelters for giving birth and nursing their pups during spring. The early breakup of sea ice destroys these snow sanctuaries, separating moms and pups and forcing pups into the icy Arctic waters before they’re big enough or strong enough to survive.

In May 2008, the Center filed a scientific petition requesting that ringed seals be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, a decision due by November 2010 under court order.
Salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris)
Range: California’s San Francisco Bay marshes
The salt marsh harvest mouse is an endangered mouse found only in the salt marshes around San Francisco Bay. It’s protected due to its limited range, historic decline in population, continuing threats of development of its habitat, pollution, commercial salt harvesting, and a decrease in native plants. Facing all these challenges, this mouse is particularly resourceful. It uses the ground runways of other rodents, is an agile climber, and can drink saltwater (and sometimes even prefers it to fresh). But global warming brings yet another threat to this tiny rodent’s home. Rising sea levels threaten to inundate the mouse’s salt marsh habitats if they’re not allowed to move inland — which is likely, thanks to development and coastal armoring.

In July 2009, the Center settled a 2007 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring the agency to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on nearly a dozen Bay Area species, including the salt marsh harvest mouse.
San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus)
Range: San Bernardino and Riverside counties, California
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is easily recognizable by its large feet and exceptionally long tail, both of which it uses in its preferred method of locomotion — hopping. Charming appearance aside, this kangaroo rat is truly a desert survivor, holding on despite having lost a staggering 95 percent of its original habit. Changing rainfall patterns and increasing drought due to climate change may threaten the rest. The amount and timing of rainfall in the k-rat’s arid home can strongly influence its population dynamics. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds — the kangaroo rats’ food — and to more green vegetation that females need to reproduce because of the water provided for lactation. Because the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s habitat has been so severely fragmented, the remaining isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction if rainfall patterns change for the worse.

In 1999, the Center sued to earn the k-rat 33, 295 acres of critical habitat. In October 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service slashed critical habitat by a shocking 76 percent — so three months later, we sued again.
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)
Range: Grasslands in California’s San Joaquin Valley as far south as Tejon Ranch and north to the eastern Bay Area counties
The smallest North American member of the dog family, the San Joaquin kit fox once ranged through San Joaquin. Today the population is sadly depleted, despite having been originally designated as endangered in 1967. Research indicates that more rainfall during the growing season in the fox’s arid home leads to more kit foxes two years later, presumably because the increased rainfall is good for the rodents and hares that the kit fox eats. Changes in precipitation patterns that reduce rainfall and increase drought may threaten this species. In addition to climate change, the kit fox also faces threats from agricultural pesticides and oil leasing in its few remaining habitats.

In 2007, the Center sued the Environmental Protection Agency for registering and allowing the use of 56 toxic pesticides in habitats for 11 Bay Area species, including the kit fox. In 2009, we filed a notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Land Management for approving a new oil and gas lease sale in sensitive kit fox habitat.
Sea otter (Enhydra lutris)
Range: California, Washington, Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Japan
Nearly hunted to extinction for their thick, luxurious pelts, sea otters have been slow to recover from initial overexploitation. Along the California, Washington, and Alaskan coasts, they can be seen floating on their backs and eating clams, sea urchins, and abalone — using their chests as a dining table. But the acidification of the coastal ocean threatens the otter’s food supply. Researchers have found that acidic waters are already upwelling along the West Coast of the United States in the otter’s coastal home. Increasingly corrosive waters make it more difficult for the marine invertebrates that are mainstay of the otter’s diet to form their shells.

The Center has won several important lawsuits on behalf of the otters, including a suit that effectively banned gillnet fishing in Monterey Bay and another that provided a critical habitat designation of 5,855 square miles.
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae)
Range: Sierra Nevada Mountains
The only mountain-scaling ovine in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this bighorn sheep has long been an iconic symbol of Western wilderness. It’s also an Endangered Species Act success story, with populations slowly increasing — though climate change may put a stop to that. The alpine and subalpine meadows in which the bighorns browse in summer and fall are projected to decline due to climate change. Meadows will shrink as treelines move upward and invade. And rising summer temperatures, along with increasing summer dryness in the Sierra Nevada, may lead to the early desiccation of meadow plants, lowering their nutrient value for the bighorn.

In 2005, the Center sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force critical habitat designation, and in August 2008, the Service designated a total of more than 400,000 acres. Still, the agency failed to protect the bighorn adequately from potentially dangerous disease transmission, so the Center warned of another suit in 2009.
Sonoran pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana)
Range: Southwest Arizona and Mexico
The fastest land mammal in North America, Sonoran pronghorn antelope originally developed their amazing speed to outrun prehistoric cheetahs. Sadly, the myriad threats that face them today are not so easily escaped. Drought appears to be a major factor affecting the survival of pronghorn adults and fawns, making increasingly severe and frequent drought in the Southwest a major threat to this species. Drought leaves pronghorn without enough water and nutritious forage and forces them to gather in areas near surface water, increasing competition for resources and the success of predators. During a drought in 2002, more than 80 percent of the existing pronghorn population died, leaving an estimated 21 pronghorn in Arizona.

The Center has been fighting for this elegant and graceful antelope by working tirelessly to secure protections for its home, the Sonoran Desert.
Southwestern myotis (Myotis auriculus)
Range: From Arizona and New Mexico to southern Mexico
The genus Myotis includes more than 80 species, including the southwestern myotis, which is found in wet pine-oak forest, desert scrub, dry forest, and ponderosa pines. This bat begins its “day” activity about one to two hours after sunset, flying around at about eight miles an hour in search of food. Its cuisine of choice: moths gleaned from tree trunks or walls of buildings. Deforestation is a dire threat to this bat, as is climate change.

The susceptibility of bats to local temperature, humidity, and precipitation patterns make them an early warning system for the cascading effects of climate change. Standing water sources are particularly important for bats living in arid areas, like the southwestern myotis. Lactating females need to drink much more than other bats to produce milk. One study found that predicted loss of water resources in the western United States due to climate change would lead to declines in regional bat populations, particularly by impeding bat reproduction.
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
Range: Throughout the world’s oceans
The sperm whale has the largest brain of any animal, produces a clicking noise that’s the loudest sound made by any animal, is considered the largest living predator — and possibly the largest predator ever — and can live up to 70 years. This whale was named after the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in its head and originally mistaken for sperm. Females cooperate to protect and nurse their young, giving birth to calves every three to six years and caring for the calves for more than a decade. Whaling led to the sperm whale’s current IUCN listing as vulnerable. Sperm-whale feeding success and calf production rates appear to be hurt by increases in sea-surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific. Rising ocean temperatures and changing currents may decrease the feeding and breeding success of at least some sperm whale populations and could alter whale migration patterns.

The Center is working to save sperm whales and other species threatened by development in the Virgin Islands’ Thatch Cay. We’ve also litigated to protect marine mammals like the sperm whale from longline fishing in Hawaii and elsewhere.
Spotted seal (Phoca largha)
Range: Beaufort, Chukchi, Bering, and Okhotsk seas and south to the northern Yellow Sea and western Sea of Japan
The spotted seal has a lot to lose if climate change continues unabated, as this seal relies on the safety of the sea-ice edge for giving birth and rearing its young. Sea-ice extent in the seal’s habitat in Alaska and Russia has already declined markedly in March through June, the months the seal uses the ice to reproduce and molt its fur. By 2050, winter sea ice is projected to decrease by 40 percent in much of the seal’s range. The loss and early breakup of sea ice could lead to breeding failure of the spotted seal, since seal pups would be forced to enter the icy Arctic waters before they’re big and strong enough to survive.

The Center petitioned for the spotted, ringed, and bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. A few months later, the National Marine Fisheries Service reacted positively to the petition; it’s now slated to decide on protections for all three seals.
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus)
Range: North Pacific Ocean coasts, ranging on the Pacific Rim from California to northern Japan
Steller’s sea lions were hunted for their meat and skin by prehistoric communities everywhere their range intersected with humans. Among pinnipeds, this sea lion is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two elephant seals. The species is named for naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades due to significant, unexplained declines in the animal’s numbers over a large portion of its range in Alaska. Increases in ocean temperatures are having profound impacts on Arctic and sub-Arctic marine ecosystems inhabited by the Steller sea lion. Warmer waters are changing the productivity and community structure of forage fish. Sea-level rise will directly affect terrestrial rookery and haul-out sites currently used by Steller sea lions.
Stephen’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi)
Range: Riverside and San Diego counties, California
The Stephen’s kangaroo rat can be glimpsed at night hopping through arid grasslands and searching for seeds, which it can store in large cheek pouches. During the day, its takes refuge in burrows that are cooler and more humid than the surrounding desert. Habitat loss has claimed 95 percent of this species’s original habit, and changing rainfall patterns and increasing drought due to climate change may threaten the rest. Stephen’s kangaroo rat populations fluctuate with the amount and timing of rainfall. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds — the kangaroo rats’ food — and to more green vegetation that females need to reproduce because of the water provided for lactation. Because this rat’s habitat has been so severely fragmented,its remaining isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction if rainfall patterns change for the worse.

The Center and allies filed suit to challenge the planned conversion of the March Stephen’s Kangaroo Rat Preserve to industrial development, which would further endanger the Stephens’ kangaroo rat and harm other imperiled species.
Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens)
Range: Southwestern Utah
Iconically cute, the Utah prairie dog spends its days digging burrows and foraging for seeds and roots. Highly social animals, prairie dogs cry out to alert each other to predators and issue an all-clear cry once the danger has passed. Once upon a time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deliberately poisoned Utah prairie dogs because they were a minor nuisance to ranchers. After bringing them to the brink of extinction, in 1973 the government listed the prairie dog as endangered and began protecting it. The species’ numbers have shot up and down since then, but the overall trend is toward recovery.

Limited in range to drought-prone southwestern Utah, this prairie dog could be imperiled by prolonged drought. The western portion of the species’ historical range has already become less favorable to prairie dogs due to higher temperatures, a drier climate, and the gradual replacement of tall grasses with salt-shrub vegetation.
Western moose (Alces alces andersoni)
Range: From northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan into western Ontario, west to central British Columbia, and north to the eastern Yukon and Northwest Territories
This subspecies of moose is particularly at risk in Isle Royale National Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where a plague of ticks, extremely hot summers, and hungry wolves — which are also in decline — have driven the moose population to its lowest point in at least 50 years.

During extremely hot summers, moose lose their appetites and seek shelter from the heat, putting them in a bad position to survive winter — since they depend on summer reserves from foraging to survive the coldest months. Warming also brings more moose ticks, which feed on moose, and a massive infestation has already developed in Isle Royale National Park. Making matters worse, warmer weather is also causing stress that makes moose more susceptible to parasites, particularly brainworm, a parasite spread by deer — and spread all the more easily when fewer deer are dying in warm winters. With a shortage of moose meat, wolves are consuming virtually everything else, and little is left for smaller predators and scavengers, like the fox and hare — affecting the entire ecosystem of the Upper Peninsula’s amazing national park.
West Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus)
Range: West Virginia and Virginia
With built-in parachutes extending between their legs, West Virginia northern flying squirrels glide among the trees in the mountains of Appalachia. A species whose heritage reaches back more than 30 million years, the West Virginia northern flying squirrel is now poised on the brink of extinction. Global warming models predict the complete disappearance of the squirrel’s high-elevation hardwood forest habitat without a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. Still, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections from the squirrel in 2008.

To save this poster critter of West Virginia’s mountaintop forests, in 2009 the Center and a coalition of allies filed a notice of intent to sue to over the squirrel’s removal from the endangered species list. We also sharply criticized the move in comments we submitted detailing the Service’s mischaracterization of threats to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, especially climate change and logging, and the agency’s inaccurate representation of current population numbers.
Yellow-footed wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus)
Range: South Australia, Western New Wales, Southwestern Queensland, Australia
Not to be confused with a kangaroo, the yellow-footed wallaby is a small hopping marsupial native to Australia. Like mountain goats of the northern hemisphere, the yellow-footed wallaby is perfectly suited to the rocky, mountainous habitat it calls home. Having nearly gone extinct in the 1970s, the species shows signs of recovery; however, with a population limited to between 300 to 400 individuals, the wallaby is still in danger.

Climate change would cause higher temperatures and lower humidity throughout the yellow-footed wallaby’s habitat, dramatically altering its natural environment and benefitting invasive species that compete for natural resources as well as preying on the wallaby directly. Climate change could also increase the length and severity of droughts and ensuing bushfires that would further reduce habitat range, causing major population decline.