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

 

NORTHWEST SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
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.
Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei)
Range: Klamath Basin in southern Oregon
Believed extinct until its rediscovery in 1983, Applegate’s milk vetch is now believed to exist at only three sites in the lower Klamath Basin in southern Oregon. This slender, white-flowered member of the pea family is restricted to flat-lying, seasonally moist, strongly alkaline soils in grassland meadows. Though it was listed as endangered 1993, by 1998 Applegate's milk vetch was found in only three locations, and one of these had just three individual plants.

Extremely specialized site requirements, limited distribution, and small population all make the Applegate’s milk vetch particularly vulnerable to extirpation. Climate change threatens this plant through higher risk of drought and higher temperatures that can dry up its habitat.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)
Range: Breed on Pacific Ocean islands, mainly Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; forage in North Pacific Ocean
This large, long-winged seabird makes epic journeys across the North Pacific, sometimes exceeding 9,000 kilometers per trip, to gather squid and fish to feed its chick. While at sea, thousands of black-footed albatrosses are drowned every year in U.S. and international longline and gillnet fisheries. Because most of the world’s black-footed albatrosses nest on the low-lying islands of the Northwest ern Hawaiian Island chain, sea-level rise and higher storm surge due to climate change threaten to drown nests.

The Center and other groups petitioned to protect this species under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now deciding whether to protect this species.
Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)
Range: From Stepovak Bay, Alaska to central Baja California; most abundant from Oregon to northern Baja California
The Bocaccio is a member of the rockfish family. One of the larger rockfish, it can grow up to three feet in length and live for 45 years. For the bocaccio and other rockfish, big, fat, and old females are the most important females, since they produce the largest numbers of eggs and the highest quality eggs, which have a better chance of surviving to become the next generation. Never-before-observed low-oxygen and no-oxygen “dead zones” linked with global warming have been forming in the California Current marine ecosystem, causing massive die-offs of rockfish and other oxygen-starved marine creatures.

In 2001, the Center and allies petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the population of bocaccio south of Cape Mendocino as threatened, as well as to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.
Boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)
Range: North-central California, east through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and north to southern Alaska
Boreal toads use holes dug by other animals for burrowing, and they can spend half of their lives hibernating. To find their way, like other toads, they use the stars and their sense of smell. Water pollution, habitat loss, and chytrid fungus have already resulted in the boreal toad disappearing from much its range. Because the toad only lives at high elevations — for example, above 8,500 feet in Colorado — global warming’s rising temperatures add yet another threat to the species. With rising temperatures, suitable habitat for the toad is pushed to even higher elevations, and habitat patches become more isolated, giving the toad fewer places to call home. In Yellowstone National Park, increased warming, reduced annual rainfall, and increasing drought conditions have already dried up pond habitat for the boreal toad and other amphibians.
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)
Range: Cold waters of northwestern North America
The bull trout is a type of char — a small-scaled trout with light spots — that was recognized as a distinct species in 1980. Some bull trout are anadromous (spending part of their lifecycle in ocean waters), while others prefer landlocked lakes or rivers. Individual bull trout vary a great deal in size, depending on their specific habitat, but all require cold, clear water with unobstructed migratory paths.

Rising water temperature and changes in stream flows can affect bull trout in each of their life stages. Even small increases in temperature can change migration timing, reduce growth, lower the supply of available oxygen in the water, reduce preferred prey species, and increase the susceptibility of fish to parasites and disease. High levels of winter flooding can scour eggs from their nests in streambeds and increase mortalities among over-wintering juveniles. About 90 percent of bull trout are projected to be lost due to warming.
Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea)
Range: North, Central, and South America
Unlike most owls, the burrowing owl doesn’t live in trees, and it’s not nocturnal. It makes its nest underground — usually in abandoned rodent burrows — and is active both day and night. Although the burrowing owl was once widespread, habitat destruction has reduced the western burrowing owl’s breeding populations by more than 60 percent. Much of the burrowing owl’s western habitat will become drier, and drought conditions will increase with global warming, which will likely lead to reduced food supply for the owl.

The Center and allies petitioned in 2003 to protect the California population of the owl under the California Endangered Species Act, but the state refused to list the owl based largely on an inaccurate, inconsistent report by the California Department of Fish and Game. Our efforts to combat urban sprawl throughout the Southwest and California will help preserve burrowing owl habitat.
California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis)
Range: Sierra Nevada and Southern California mountain ranges
The iconic California spotted owl is a bellwether of old-growth forests. This owl’s classic four-note call was once commonly heard throughout the big trees of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California ranges, but logging, sprawl, and invasion by the barred owl are silencing it. Old-growth forests in the range of the California spotted owl have declined by roughly 90 percent. Increased precipitation during the late breeding season lowers the success of spotted owls in raising their young, likely by inhibiting prey populations and parents’ ability to capture prey for their offspring, or by directly causing the deaths of chicks. Altered rainfall patterns caused by climate change could thus jeopardize the owl’s ability to rear its young.

The Center has helped stop a number of timber sales in the Sierra Nevada and advocated for strong owl protection in plans developed for the Giant Sequoia National Monument and four Southern California national forests.
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.
Cascades frog (Rana cascadae)
Range: California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia, mostly in the Cascades and Olympic Mountains
The Cascades frog inhabits wet, mountain areas near streams, ponds and bogs at higher elevations, typically above 2,000 feet. It spends the winter hibernating in the mud and emerges when the snow melts to find mates and breed. Although populations in Oregon and Washington appear to be stable at present, the Cascades frog has disappeared from 50 percent of its historic range in California, with high losses of the southernmost populations in the northern Sierra Nevadas and Mount Lassen.

Warming temperatures, reduced snowpack and earlier spring runoff in the western U.S. mountains threaten to dry this frog's upper-elevation wet-meadow, marsh, creek and pond habitat. Frogs that come out of hibernation and begin breeding earlier as temperatures rise may become more vulnerable to spring flooding and freezing. Climate change can also be more favorable to some amphibian parasites and disease.
Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)
Range: Pacific Ocean and West Coast from Alaska to Mexico
Underwater, the Cassin's auklet is an agile diver, propelling itself to depths of up to 80 meters with its wings to feed on krill — small, shrimp-like crustaceans. While flying, this small, chunky seabird is a little less graceful, resembling a mini-football with rapidly whirring wings. Cassin’s auklets nests in deep burrows on offshore islands without predators from Alaska to Mexico. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the prey of the Cassin’s auklet. The world’s largest breeding populations in British Columbia and the largest California population have been rapidly declining in recent decades, including years of unprecedented complete breeding failure when chicks starved en masse. This failure has been linked to changes in ocean climate conditions.
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Range: Monterey Bay, California to Chukchi Sea, Alaska
The chinook salmon is the largest member of the salmon family, reaching nearly five feet in length. This fish is highly valued as both a game and commercial fish, particularly since it’s scarce compared to other Pacific salmon. The chinook is imperiled by threats to both ocean water and freshwater, as it lives in both habitats at different stages in its lifecycle.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chinook salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put these fish under higher metabolic stress, increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease, and can cause eggs to hatch earlier in the year, so the young are smaller and more vulnerable to predators. High levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in streambeds, while earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall. One study found that up to 40 percent of chinook salmon in the Snohomish River basin in western Washington state may be lost by 2050.
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Range: Coastal waters along Northern Pacific Rim, from Tillamook Bay, Oregon extending north and west to northern Japan
Chum salmon, also sometimes referred to as “dog salmon,” are second only to chinook salmon in size and were historically perhaps the most abundant of all salmon. Breeding males develop pronounced canine-like teeth — hence the “dog” moniker — and a bold tricolor pattern on the body. Chum salmon have long been popular as both sport and food fish, but they’re now dangerously close to extinction, with several subpopulations believed to be extirpated and more robust populations declining each year.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chum salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put the fish under higher metabolic stress and increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease. Earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall, while high levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in the streambed.
Cook’s lomatium (Lomatium cookii)
Range: Southwestern Oregon, particularly the Agate Desert
Cook’s lomatium is a small, perennial plant in the parsley family that occurs only in ephemeral wetlands and vernal pools with shallow pan soils, sparse vegetation, and few trees. The usually inconspicuous lomatium flourishes in early spring after winter rains, flowering and setting seed all before the hot, dry summer sets in. Since the 1980s, the species has lost more than 50 percent of its range to development, and none of its remaining habitat has escaped the invasion of weedy competitors. Disturbance to vernal pools has altered their hydrology, making the pools more susceptible to drying during drought. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species.

In 2002, 10 years after the Center and allies sued for failing to list about 500 imperiled species — including the Cook’s lomatium — the Cook’s lomatium was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Fender’s blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi)
Range: Willamette Valley in Oregon
The Fender’s blue is tiny — only about an inch across — and endangered, a butterfly found only in the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon. First noticed in the 1920s, it wasn’t scientifically documented and named until 1931. Biologist Ralph Macy named it for his friend Kenneth Fender, an entomologist and mail carrier. Later in the 1930s, the species was presumed extinct, but small populations were rediscovered in 1989. Fender’s blue butterflies are completely dependent upon the threatened Kincaid's lupine. Fender’s blues lay one egg at a time on the back of a Kincaid's lupine leaf, each egg no larger than the head of a pin. Climate change may change the availability of this butterfly’s host and nectar plants and disrupt the synchrony of the butterfly life cycle with its host plants.

In January 2000, the Fender's blue was added to the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Center secured critical habitat for the rare species in 2006.
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.
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.
North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris)
Range: From the Bering Sea to Ensenada, Mexico; in estuaries and bays from British Columbia, to Monterey Bay; in river mouths from the Skeena River to the Sacramento River
Reaching up to seven feet long and weighing up to 350 pounds, the ancient but imperiled green sturgeon has survived unchanged for the past 200 million years. This bottom-dwelling fish spends much of its adult life in bays and estuaries, returning to only three rivers to spawn — Oregon’s Rogue River and the Klamath and Sacramento rivers in California. Threats to the green sturgeon include water withdrawals from rivers, dams blocking access to spawning habitat, overfishing, poaching for caviar, and now global warming. Because green sturgeon need good water quality and specific temperatures to spawn and hatch their eggs, rising river temperatures and changes in river flows threaten their ability to reproduce. As precipitation shifts from snowpack (which melts gradually) to rainfall, the salinity of estuaries is predicted to change, increasing stress on the sturgeon.

Thanks to the Center, the southern green sturgeon was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2006; federal protections for habitat were proposed in 2008.
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.
Henderson’s checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii)
Range: Oregon, Washington, Canada, Alaska
This tall perennial puts on a beautiful show all summer with its spike of purple to pink blooms. But how much longer that show will go on in the wild is unclear. While this species was historically found in at least 10 sites in Oregon, it currently occurs naturally only on Cox Island, and there are believed to be fewer than 100 total populations.

Because Henderson’s checkermallow exists on or adjacent to tidelands, it’s particularly vulnerable to the sea-level rise anticipated to accelerate with global warming.
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.
Island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus)
Range: San Juan Island in Washington state
Last seen in 1908 before popping up again 90 years later, this beautiful white and green butterfly was believed extinct until a small population was found on Washington state’s San Juan Islands. Scientists believe this is the only viable population of island marble butterflies in the world — one catastrophic event could wipe out the whole population. Many butterfly species have shifted their ranges or declined in response to climate change. Because much of the island marble’s habitat has been destroyed, a key danger is that the remaining isolated population may not be able to shift to new areas as climate conditions are altered. Climate change may also change the availability of this species’ host and nectar plants or disrupt the synchrony of the butterfly’s life cycle with its host plants.

In 2002, the Center and allies petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the island marble butterfly as endangered. In February 2006, the Service began a review of the butterfly’s status.
Large-flowered woolly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. grandiflora)
Range: Agate Desert in southwestern Oregon’s Jackson County
Large-flowered woolly meadowfoam occurs at the edge of low-elevation vernal pools at a small number of sites in the Agate Desert in southwestern Oregon. The stems and leaves of this plant are sparsely covered with short, fuzzy plant-fur, and its flowers sport a dense coat of hairs. These hairs, called “trichomes,” help reflect the sun’s rays and limit water loss during the plant’s short spring growing period in its vernal pool surroundings. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species, threatening local extirpations of isolated populations.

In 2002, 10 years after the Center and allies sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to list about 500 imperiled species — including the meadowfoam — the Service declared the plant endangered.
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Range: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans
Loggerhead sea turtles make some of the longest known journeys of any sea turtle species, each year migrating more than 7,500 miles between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the coast of Mexico. Along the way, they must navigate past millions of longline hooks, which catch and kill thousands of sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, and sharks. Gillnet fisheries likewise entangle and drown many loggerheads. Making matters much worse, rising sea levels due to global warming threaten to destroy Florida’s nesting beaches, and rising temperatures could dramatically tilt the balance of male and female turtles being hatched, endangering the species’ reproductive abilities. This is because turtles’ gender is determined by temperature; in warmer weather, there are fewer males born, and with a temperature just two degrees higher than 29 degrees Celsius, almost all hatchlings are females.

The Center has repeatedly litigated to curtail commercial fishing practices harming the loggerhead. Following one lawsuit, longline fishing for swordfish was prohibited along the West Coast. In 2007, we petitioned to list North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles as endangered, as well as to increase protections in key nesting habitat.
Longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys)
Range: Estuaries along the Pacific Coast, from San Francisco Bay to Alaska
Longfin smelt were once one of the most abundant open-water fishes in the San Francisco Bay Estuary — commercially important fish, key to the Bay food web. Today the species’ numbers have plummeted to record lows in the Bay-Delta, and it’s nearing extinction in other northern California estuaries. Thanks to poor management of California’s largest estuary ecosystem, which has allowed excessive water diversions and reduced freshwater flow into the Bay, the longfin smelt has undergone two catastrophic declines in just 20 years. Among the threats to the little fish posed by global warming are warming waters, sea-level rise and accompanying salinity intrusion, changes in timing and amounts of freshwater inflow, and increased frequency and intensity of floods.

In 2007, the Center and allies petitioned for state endangered species protection for the longfin smelt. In 2009, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to declare the smelt threatened.
Marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
Range: Pacific Coast of North America from the Aleutian Archipelago and southern Alaska to central California
In 1974, the marbled murrelet — the “enigma of the Pacific” — won the distinction of being the last bird species in the United States to have its nesting site discovered. Rather than building a nest, this seabird travels inland as much as 50 miles to lay a single egg high in the old-growth forest canopy, which it depends on for survival. Climate change threatens the murrelet’s terrestrial nesting and marine feeding habitats. Forest growth is expected to decrease over the long term as temperatures increase and trees can no longer benefit from increased winter precipitation and longer growing seasons. Forest ecosystems will also be altered by increases in extreme flooding, landslides, and windthrow events, as well as by changes in fire regimes and drought. The murrelet’s marine habitat is at risk due to global warming’s potential to exacerbate harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and food availability and quality.

In 2008, the Center succeeded in halting a timber-industry attack on the bird’s Endangered Species Act status.ction
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.
Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
Range: From southwestern British Columbia through the Cascade Mountains, coastal ranges, and intervening forested lands of Washington, Oregon, and California
A popular symbol of the decline of Northwest forests, the medium-sized, chocolaty brown northern spotted owl depends on the old-growth forests that once stretched in an unbroken ribbon from Alaska to California — forests that are now a ghostly memory of their former selves. As an avian icon, curious and vocal, this owl is an excellent indicator of the health of these forests and the hundreds of species that depend on them. But the Pacific Northwest’s spotted owl habitat will be affected by climate change and its accompanying increases in extreme flooding, landslides and windthrow events, and changes in fire regimes and drought.

The Center has defended this owl at every twist and turn, submitting comments in opposition to the Western Oregon Plan Revision and intervening in a timber-industry lawsuit that sought a reduction of the owl’s critical habitat. We also took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court over an Oregon Department of Forestry logging plan in the Elliott State Forest, an area that provides crucial habitat for the northern spotted owl.
Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa)
Range: Small, isolated populations in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia
The first species ever to be emergency-listed as an endangered species in Canada, the Oregon spotted frog has been on the U.S. candidate list for more than 15 years but still has no federal protection in the United States. Named for the black spots covering its body, the species has a historic range that stretches from California past the U.S.-Canadian border, but has been lost from 90 percent of its former range. Because frog life cycles are closely tied to moisture and temperature, frogs are thought to be among the most sensitive species to climate change. Changing temperature and precipitation can influence the timing of life-cycle events, development, and metabolism during hibernation; they can also exacerbate the effects of diseases like chytrid fungus.

In 2008, after the Center and allies filed suit to protect the species from devastating livestock grazing in the home of one of its few populations, the Forest Service proposed to fence off the critical area to protect the frog from cattle.
Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentate)
Range: Pacific Rim from Japan through Alaska, North American Pacific Coast to Baja California, Mexico
Ancient, jawless fish, lampreys superficially resemble eels but aren’t related to them. They have an anadromous life cycle (migrating to freshwater for spawning), similar to salmon and steelhead trout. Large concentrations of adult and larval lampreys were once an important and dependable high-fat food source for many birds, fish, and mammals along the Pacific Coast and acted as a buffer to reduce predation on migrating adult salmon. Like salmon, lampreys play a key ecological role transporting nutrients like nitrogen to freshwater ecosystems. Because the survival of Pacific lamprey larvae is sensitive to temperature, and larvae appear to have a little tolerance for high temperatures, rising stream temperatures from global warming may threaten Pacific lamprey populations. Increases in extreme rainfall events and flooding may also scour or eliminate the gravel beds that lamprey need for spawning.

Alarmed by severe declines of Pacific lamprey in many rivers, the Center joined a coalition in petitioning for Endangered Species Act protection for the Pacific lamprey, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service eventually denied listing.
Puget Oregonian (Cryptomastix devia)
Range: Southwestern British Columbia south to the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge
The Puget Oregonian is a small snail that inhabits the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada. Little is known for sure about this rare and reclusive snail, which is only found in small, scattered populations. It is believed to be slow to mature and long lived, but the species faces a host of threats including habitat destruction and fragmentation, competition from introduced species, and increasingly, climate change.

This snail prefers moist valleys, ravines, gorges, or talus sites near permanent or persistent water in areas not subject to frequent flooding. Because it depends on moist microhabitat, the Puget Oregonian is likely to be detrimentally affected by changes in ground temperature and drier soil conditions as global warming increases temperatures and drought.
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.
Scott Bar salamander (Plethodon asupaki)
Range: Southwest Oregon and northwest California
The Scott Bar salamander has very particular habitat preferences — boulder fields in moss-covered, old-growth forests of the diverse Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of California and Oregon, where salamanders can find moist conditions. The logging of old-growth trees in salamander habitat, along with the increasing risks of forest fire, mining, and construction, put the species at grave risk of extinction. And these salamanders prefer a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because they breathe through their skin — so climate change is another big threat. Besides disrupting their ecosystem’s microclimate, warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Scott Bar salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
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.
Showy stickseed (Hackelia venusta)
Range: Washington
This beautiful plant is the rarest in Washington state. It’s found at only one site — on a slope near a major highway — and nowhere else in the world. Moreover, the slope the showy stickseed is restricted to is susceptible to landslides. Despite the rough circumstances, the showy stickseed bursts into bloom with a splashy display of large, showy white flowers.

Fire suppression has hurt this plant’s population by allowing trees and shrubs to flourish, causing shading and crowding of the showy stickseed. Changes in fire intensity due to climate change could further threaten the species. A hot fire will damage the root of the plant, leading to plant death, whereas a cooler fire would only damage the aboveground portions of the plant, allowing it to grow back. Large, hot fires could also increase the likelihood of a major landslide by destroying the root structure of the plants that stabilize the soil.
Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi)
Range: Siskiyou Mountains in northwest California and southwest Oregon
Like the Scott Bar salamander, which shares the same small range as the Siskiyou salamander, this salamander once enjoyed non-species-specific protection under a “look-before-you-leap” forest management plan. Unfortunately, Bush-era protection repeals have left this little salamander in dire straights, with climate change posing a central threat. This salamander prefers a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because it breathes through its skin. Warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Siskiyou Mountains salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Range: Arctic regions of both the old and new worlds
The snowy owl was first classified as a species in 1758. This large, white-feathered tundra dweller relies primarily on lemmings for food, but will take advantage of larger prey, including rabbits and foxes. It can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year. The snowy owl is an extremely important component of the food web in the tundra ecosystem. Already, climate change may be threatening the snowy owl's primary prey — the lemming. In Norway, changes in temperature and humidity affecting snowpack may have interrupted the regular boom-and-bust cycle of lemming populations, making this food source less predictable for the owls. In addition, researchers have recently discovered that snowy owls may use Arctic sea-ice habitat extensively in winter for hunting sea ducks. The melting of the sea ice may impact the owl’s ability to hunt in winter.
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Range: Pacific Ocean and coastal streams
Sockeye salmon, also known as “red” or “blueback” salmon, live a dual existence between freshwater streams and the ocean. Sockeye salmon hatch in freshwater streams where they may live for up to four years before migrating to sea as silvery smolt weighing only a few ounces. They grow quickly in the sea, usually reaching four to eight pounds after one to four years. Mature sockeye salmon travel thousands of miles from ocean feeding areas to spawn in the same freshwater system they were born in. Little is known about how they navigate.

Climate change affects sockeye salmon in several important ways. As rivers get warmer, the survival rate of cold-water salmon migrating upstream to spawn is expected to plummet. Flooding events in the streams where sockeye spawn could wash eggs from the gravel beds where they’re laid. A recent study found that prolonged ocean warming could greatly restrict the ocean foraging areas of sockeye salmon.
Spalding’s catchfly (Silene spaldingii)
Range: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana
A leafy, perennial flower in the carnation family, Spalding's catchfly grows on low- to mid-elevation grasslands of the Palouse Prairie and adjacent areas in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. There are currently 99 known populations, with two-thirds of these composed of fewer than 100 individuals each. Agricultural and urban development, off-road vehicle use and competition from nonnative plants have all contributed to its decline. Climate change exacerbates conditions for the spread of invasive plants and increases the intensity and frequency of fire, all major threats to the Spalding’s catchfly.

In 2001, the Center won a threatened listing for the Spalding’s catchfly, and we’ve since been working to reduce pesticide impacts on this sensitive plant.
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.
Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi)
Range: California and Agate Desert of southern Oregon
Though tiny and delicate looking, fairy shrimp are spectacularly adapted to living in vernal pool habitats. But what happens when the fairy shrimp’s unique home turf is paved over, farmed on, or churned up by vehicles’ wheels? Now, with just 25 suitable vernal pool complexes left on the planet, even this tough little crustacean can’t withstand human impacts much longer. With the looming threat of climate change and decreased rainfall, not only the shrimp but a suite of rare vernal pool species — as well as vernal pools themselves — could slip into extinction. Relatively small changes in the timing or amount of precipitation can affect fairy shrimp population dynamics. Drought-induced decreases in water depth and the period of inundation of vernal pools can increase the frequency at which pools dry before shrimp have completed their life cycle. Warming temperatures and low water levels can cause pool temperatures to more often exceed temperatures suitable for hatching and the persistence of the species.

The Center has been working to save the Riverside fairy shrimp since 1997, when we and allies stopped a massive development planned for one of Los Angeles’ last remaining wetlands. We also filed suit in 1999 to force the Service to designate critical habitat. And in early 2009, we filed suit against the Bush administration over its appalling reduction in the fairy shrimp’s critical habitat.
Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis)
Range: Warner Basin of southeastern Oregon and northeastern Nevada
The Warner sucker is a strikingly colored suckerfish found only in the Warner Lake region of southeastern Oregon. Once widely distributed throughout the region, this sucker now survives in only a handful of lakes and steams. The near extinction of the Warner sucker is due to habitat degradation in the form of fragmentation, blockage of migratory paths, and introduction of predatory nonnative fishes.

Increasingly severe drought conditions due to climate change threaten this fish’s future. For example, a prolonged drought from 1987 to 1994 reduced stream habitat and desiccated the Warner Lakes, extirpating the resident Warner sucker population.
Western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus)
Range: Washington, Oregon, California, and Mexico
A small, unobtrusive bird, the western snowy plover is a year-round beach citizen and an integral part of the Pacific beach ecosystem. Heedless of this shy, pocket-sized shorebird, developers have made the open sandy beaches it favors a prime target for destructive projects; also, people’s beach activity often scares plovers away from their nests, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to both predators and the elements. Now, sea-level rise and increased storm surge events threaten to inundate the plover’s coastal breeding and foraging habitat; degrade the quality of habitat for foraging, nesting, and cover; and alter the types and availability of prey species.

In October 2008, the Center sued the Department of the Interior to force it to grant the plover the critical habitat it needs. We’ve also worked against plover-killing off-road vehicle use, pushed for oil-drilling restrictions in key habitat, petitioned for dog-leash laws in the bird’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area home, and published a report detailing the devastating effects of pesticide use on plovers.
White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura)
Range: Alpine regions from Alaska to New Mexico
The white-tailed ptarmigan is the smallest bird in the grouse family and the only bird in the alpine zone to remain there during winter instead of migrating. It has feathers around its nostrils, so the air it inhales is warmed before reaching its body. In winter, this bird is pure white except for a black beak and eyes, and its white feathers help camouflage it. In summer, it has a mottled and barred brown head, breast, and back with white wings, belly, and tail. Because white-tailed ptarmigan occupy patchy high-elevation alpine tundra habitats, rising temperatures may compress and fragment their alpine habitat as forested habitats move upward in elevation. Scientists have found that the growth of ptarmigan populations in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has decreased as winter minimum temperatures have increased, and that future warming is likely to accelerate declines in ptarmigan abundance.