Did you know that more than 13,000 species are listed as endangered in North America? Continue reading to learn all about the 21 most endangered animals in North America.
North America has a vast diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, arachnids, and amphibians. Slowly but surely, many species are losing their natural habitat, and thus their population is declining.
The whole world, including North America, is changing in various ways: climate change, increasing human population, construction of dams, roads, and other projects that require deforestation. All these and many other factors are the main reason that animals are growing increasingly endangered.
If proper measurements are not taken in time by conservationists, environmentalists and – most importantly – governments, we will lose many adorable animals, causing overall disturbance to the natural cycles.
In this article, we will discuss the 21 Most Endangered Animals In North America that require urgent care. Otherwise, they will go extinct.
21 Most Endangered Animals In North America
With increasing human development affects a high number of species. We are only focusing on the evolution of Homo Sapiens, ignoring all the other members of the world and unconsciously adding to the endangerment of animals.
When need to realize that animals, plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and other species are vital parts of this planet and essential for the continuation of life.
Below is the list of 21 Most Endangered Animals In North America.
#1 Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)
The black-footed ferret is also called the prairie dog hunter or American polecat. It is native to Central North America and appears similar to the Asian steppe polecat and the European polecat.
The American polecat population has been declining throughout the 20th century. It is now an endangered animal because of human intolerance, the sylvatic plague, the decline in prairie dog populations because of diseases, and habitat loss.
About 300 black-footed ferrets remain in the world; therefore, extraordinary measures are required to protect them from extinction.
The black-footed ferret is an essential part of the Great Plains prairie ecosystem because it keeps a check on the population of prairie dogs, and the role it plays can not be performed by anyone else.
#2 Michoacan Pocket Gopher (Zygogeomys trichopus)
The Michoacan pocket gopher is a rodent species and is native to Mexico. It lives in high-altitude, temperate forests.
IUCN has listed it as an endangered animal due to its decreasing population. It doesn’t attempt to bite and is overall docile.
The Michoacan pocket gopher is facing significant extinction risks; therefore, their conservation is the foremost step that conservationists should consider.
#3 Tehuantepec Jackrabbit (Lepus flavigularis)
The Tehuantepec jackrabbit lives in Mexico. It has large legs and ears and is one of the largest jackrabbits. Its ideal places to live are grassy dunes and savannas on the saltwater lagoon shores.
According to Mexican Official Norm, it is critically endangered and an endangered animal on the IUCN red list.
Currently, less than 1,000 Tehuantepec jackrabbit individuals remain, who are living in isolated subpopulations.
The most common threats to Tehuantepec jackrabbits are fragmentation, habitat loss, small population size, poaching, and genetic isolation. Coyote and gray fox predation is the primary reason for jackrabbit mortality.
The presence of the Tehuantepec jackrabbit in the ecosystem is crucial for maintaining the stability and structure of the communities where it resides.
#4 Gulf Coast Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi)
Gulf Coast jaguarundi is an endangered species from Southern Texas to eastern Mexico. It is smaller than a cougar and more extensive than an average domestic cat. Its body is 30 inches (77cm) long and has a 23 inches (60cm) long tail.
The main risks facing the Gulf Coast jaguarundi are fragmentation and natural territory loss. This endangered species’ remaining population uncertain, but it is on the IUCN red list of endangered animals.
Gulf Coast jaguarundi plays a crucial role in terrestrial ecosystems by controlling the prey population, including birds, small mammals, and a few vertebrates. It also helps control agricultural pests by controlling rabbits, rats, and mice.
#5 Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)
The Key deer inhabits Florida keys and is one of the most endangered deer. Moreover, they are the smallest extant North American deer. It is a subspecies of white-tailed deer and can be differentiated from others by its smaller size.
Key deer are endangered due to hunting, habitat loss, car accidents, illegal feeding by humans, disease, climate change, and other human activities.
They are listed in the endangered species list because only 700 to 800 individuals of key deer still exist in the wild.
Several conservation efforts are underway to increase the critical deer population and to exclude it from the endangered list.
Moreover, they form an essential part of the ecosystem; the ecosystem cycle will be significantly disturbed if they become extinct.
#6 Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae)
As one would guess, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep live in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It is a subspecies of bighorn sheep and constitutes a federally endangered animal. The big curled brown horns are an essential characteristic of this creature.
It became an endangered animal in North America because of mountain lion predation, disease outbreaks, and unregulated hunting. Virulent diseases also reduced its population significantly. In 1970, sadly, only 250 Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep remained.
The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep officially became an endangered species in 2000. According to the 2016 report, only 600 species currently exist in the wild.
This highly agile creature needs conservation measurements to increase in numbers again.
#7 Cook Inlet Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas)
Cook Inlet Beluga whales are found in the sub-arctic and arctic regions where the water is covered by ice.
Since 1979 the number of Cook Inlet Beluga whales has been reduced by 80%. Likewise, according to a 2018 report, only 279 Cook Inlet Beluga whales are left out of 13,000. Unfortunately, the population of this whale has been continuously declining for the past two decades.
The main threats the Cook Inlet Beluga whale faces are noise, catastrophic events, disease agents, effects of multiple stressors, unauthorized take, habitat loss, predation, reduction in prey, pollution, and subsistence hunting.
Their recovery is essential to prevent their extinction.
#8 Florida Panther (P. c. couguar)
The Florida Panther has many other names: the Florida cougar, Costa Rican puma, and Florida puma. It is a cougar in North America that inhabits tropical hardwood hammocks, pinelands, and mixed freshwater swamp forests.
It has been the Florida state animal since 1982. In 1970 the total population of Florida panthers in the wild was only 20, but according to a 2017 report, their population has increased to 230. However, it is still an endangered animal in North America.
The main threats to Florida panthers are poaching, habitat fragmentation, predation, habitat loss, territorial aggression, automobile collisions, habitat degradation, and development. Mercury poisoning is also a severe threat to this animal.
#9 Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
Lobo is another common name for the Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf. It resides in southern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The Mexican wolf is the only known smallest gray wolf in North America.
In 2021 the population of Mexican wolves was 186 in the wild and 350 in various captive breeding programs. In 1976 Conservationists included it in the endangered species act.
The leading causes of Mexican wolf endangerment are various human activities and poaching; they were hunted, shot, and poisoned.
Increasing the Mexican wolf population is important because it plays a vital role in ecosystem restoration.
#10 Pygmy Raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus)
Pygmy raccoons also go by the names of Cozumel Raccoon Bear, Cozumel Raccoon, Dwarf Raccoon, and Cozumel Island Raccoon. Naturally, Cozumel Island is home to the Cozumel Raccoon.
IUCN reported Pygmy Raccoon as critically endangered because only 250 to 300 individuals remain worldwide.
The main threat to this cute animal is the development of Cozumel island. Recent research shows that parasites and diseases also reduce their population.
#11 Mexican prairie dog (Cynomys mexicanus)
The Mexican prairie dog is a rodent inhabiting northern San Luis Potosí and southern Coahuila in Mexico. Their ideal place to live is in rock-free soil on plains.
Mexican prairie dogs became endangered because people used them to treat agricultural pests. Hurricanes, dogs, and feral cats also threaten this animal.
Merely 250 mature Mexican prairie dogs are currently living in the world.
Mexican prairie dogs play a crucial role in the ecosystem by creating a burrows system and extensive tunnels. Spending time in the tunnels moves the seeds further inside the soil and dramatically enhances water filtering.
#12 Baja California Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana peninsularis)
Peninsular pronghorn is another name for the Baja California pronghorn, which is native to Baja California in Mexico.
According to recent work, the estimated population of Baja California pronghorn is 200 wild individuals at the moment; therefore, it features on the red list of endangered animals.
The main threats to Baja California pronghorn are cattle ranching, habitat destruction, and poaching.
This critically endangered pronghorn requires conservation measures to increase its population and make them an impressive part of the ecosystem again.
#13 North American Cougar (Puma concolor couguar)
Did you know the largest cat in North America is the North American cougar?
The North American cougar resides in Southern Florida, Western United States, and Western Canada.
The scarcity of prey, natural territory loss, and human predation are the main reasons for its population reduction.
The population of North American cougars is decreasing and becoming isolated due to the increasing human population. Although it is not near extinction, conserving this animal species going forward is adviceable to prevent its loss.
#14 Baffin Island Wolf (Canis lupus manning)
Baffin Island Tundra Wolf, or Baffin Island wolf, lives on Baffin Island and a few nearby islands. It is small in comparison to other wolves and has a light-colored coat, almost appearing white.
The Baffin Island wolf is also an endangered animal in North America. There is very little knowledge about the threats that caused the reduction in their population.
There is a strong need for further in-depth research to protect the Baffin Island wolf from becoming extinct.
#15 Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is famously known as the Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle. It is the most endangered sea turtle species in the world. This rarest sea turtle species belongs to the genus Lepidochelys.
According to conservationists, only 7,000 – 9,000 nesting females of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle exist worldwide. It was listed as endangered in 1970.
The Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle is becoming endangered due to accidental capturing in fishing gear, consumption, and destruction of hatchlings and eggs by predators such as coyotes, birds, feral pigs, and crabs.
Officials in Mexico and the US are continuously working to protect the Atlantic ridley sea turtle.
#16 Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae)
The Wood Bison has various names like mountain bison, mountain buffalo, and wood buffalo.
Mountain Bison has lost much of its population due to habitat loss, hunting, diseases, fragmentation, and human intolerance.
Recent reports reveal that only 7,000 wood bisons remain within Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon. In Alaska, the population of wood bison reduced from 140 individuals to only 92 after 2018.
As the wood bison is a fundamental part of Canadian identity and culture, losing it forever will result in significant economic and ecological value.
#17 Coiban Agouti (Dasyprocta coibae)
The Coiban Agouti is a rodent species native to the island of Coiba. It strongly resembles the Central American Agouti.
The population of Coiban Agouti is declining, but the exact remaining population of it is uncertain. The most common reason for its vulnerability is loss of habitat.
Coiban Agouti is found on one island only, which is protected but highly subjected to various potential threats such as hurricanes and climate impacts like rising sea levels. Therefore, this species is considered endangered. There is very little knowledge about the ecology and habitat of Coiban Agouti is known.
#18 Red Wolf (Canis rufus)
The red wolf, a canine, inhabits the southeastern United States. Canis rufus is a habitat generalist.
Red wolves risk extinction due to hybridization with coyotes, illegal killing, and mismanagement.
The population of red wolves in 2006 was 130 individuals; before 2006, the population of red wolves was even less than 70.
Red wolf keeps the prey population in check and is thus an essential part of the ecosystem.
Thankfully the reintroduction program of red wolves is displaying positive results because their population is increasing compared to its past population.
#19 Coiba Island Howler (Alouatta coibensis)
Coiba Island Howler is a type of new world monkey (howler monkey) native to Panama.
About 472 individuals of Coiba Island howler remain in the wild and are consequently one of the most endangered animals in North America.
There needs to be more studies conducted on the Coiba Island Howler to generate proper planning to protect this animal from becoming extinct.
#20 Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis)
The Vancouver Island Marmot lives in the high mountains of Vancouver Island.
The population of Vancouver Island Marmot in 2003 was merely 30. However, due to various recovery programs, their population increased to 250 to 300 individuals by 2015.
Various efforts aim to restore self-sustaining wild populations and prevent the extinction of this marmot species.
Vancouver Island Marmots reside in the wild and in various captive breeding centers.
The main threat to this North American animal is predation – specifically by the golden eagle, great wolf, and cougar. Climate change also threatens their population in specific ways.
The presence of Vancouver Island Marmot in the wild is essential because, as herbivores, they have a fundamental role in the grasslands ecosystem.
#21 Hispaniolan Hutia (Plagiodontia medium)
Hispaniolan Hutia is a rat-like mammal that is small in size and native to the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola forests. It is active at night, inhabits trees or caves, and lives in moist and dry forests on the island.
Hispaniolan Hutia is an endangered animal primarily threatened by hunting, habitat loss, invasive species, habitat destruction, and direct use as a crop pest.
The exact number of its remaining population is not known, but the evolutionary distinctiveness makes this species of high value for global mammal conservation.
The Ending Words:
Many animals in North America are endangered due to inadequate conservation measures and various other factors. Many animals are near extinction, and thousands are endangered. Taking care of endangered animals and adequately planning for their protection is the only way to protect them from complete defeat.
Although there are many more, in this write-up, we have outlined the 21 Most Endangered Animals in North America that need urgent conservation.
Various factors such as human activities, climate change, and disease are the leading causes that animals are becoming increasingly endangered.
Thank you for the reading this article! To expand your knowledge on endangered animals even further head over to read our article about the Most Endangered Animals in Africa.