Protecting endangered animals and plants is the Center's core mission. From miniscule, nearly invisible fairy shrimp to gray whales and towering redwoods, we believe all species have an intrinsic right to live.


What took 4 billion years to evolve is vanishing in the blink of an eye.

Under relentless pressure from habitat destruction and climate change associated with exploding human populations, species are going extinct at up to 1,000 times the natural rate. The diversity of life that sustains ecological systems and human cultures around the world is collapsing. In response, the Center's programs to save unique species and lands now reach beyond American borders, from the Antarctic to the North Pole and from Asia to North Africa. In the United States, our goal is to secure legal protection for all species in danger of extinction and to enact conservation strategies that will save them. The Center is the nation's leader in preserving endangered species, having secured Endangered Species Act protection for hundreds of species and hundreds of millions of acres of land and water.



• Compiling and analyzing data about species status and recovery.
• Submitting legal petitions, filing lawsuits when necessary, using the leverage of our supporters' voices and taking multiple other actions to ensure that imperiled species are federally protected.
• Obtaining adequate amounts of critical habitat for species.
• Advocating for sound conservation policy.
• Watchdogging Congress and government agencies.
• Expanding our use of creative media to keep you informed and engaged.


Our Endangered Species program has:

• Submitted the largest petition ever filed targeting imperiled U.S. amphibians and reptiles, seeking Endangered Species Act protection for 53 of the rarest and most sensitive species on the planet.

• Overturned improper decisions that robbed dozens of imperiled species of critical habitat protections — winning millions of acres of new or additional critical habitat protections for numerous species, including more than 25 million acres for the Canada lynx and 1.6 million acres for the California red-legged frog.

• Gained first-time protection, through listing petitions and litigation, for more than 500 species under the Endangered Species Act — more than all other U.S. conservation groups combined.

• Secured hundreds of millions of acres of critical habitat for endangered species, including habitat for the Arkansas River shiner in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas; the red-legged frog in California; two species of marine ducks, spectacled and Steller's eiders, in Alaska; and 120 million acres of protected habitat for the polar bear — the largest critical habitat designation in Endangered Species Act history.

• Published groundbreaking scientific articles and comprehensive reports on subjects such as species recovery, including our 2012 report On Time, On Target, which shows the ESA has a 90 percent success rate — plus a study of species recovery in the Northeast, the first to quantify population trends of multiple endangered species and analyze what critical habitat means for these species.

• Defeated aggressive attempts by conservative lawmakers to gut the Endangered Species Act by supplying sound science and statistical analysis to policymakers.


Myrtle's silverspot butterflyInsects play major roles in keeping ecosystems and humans healthy and functioning. Despite their importance, insects are declining in an extinction crisis across the globe. Learn more about our Saving the Insects campaign. 

The Center is working to protect amphibians and reptiles on the knife-edge of extinction — species facing a profound extinction crisis unlike any other.

How Many Times Should a Bullet Kill? Help us fight the NRA's legislation that would let millions of birds, like condors, be poisoned by lead hunting ammo and fishing tackle yearly. Learn more and take action.

Gray wolves are under attack. Learn about these critical predators' peril and what the Center's doing to protect them across the lower 48 states.

Extinction CrisisWe're now experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs. Get the scary inside scoop on the extinction crisis.

What exactly is biodiversity, anyway? Learn the whats, whys, and what-ifs regarding the best thing on Earth: life in all its forms and glory.

Cleaning Up the Bush LegacyThe Southeast's staggering freshwater biodiversity also comprises one of the most imperiled ecosystems on the planet — so we petitioned for 404 species.




Contact the Endangered Species Program.

Banner photo of Alaska wolf by Doug Brown/Flickr