Skip to Content

16 Most Endangered Animals at the North Pole

polar bears endangered animals

Are you interested in the most endangered animals at the North Pole?

Animals native to the North Pole, which is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, are often called Arctic animals. Here are some of the fascinating endangered animals that live in these frigid conditions.

Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Arctic wildlife is facing a series of crises, courtesy of human activities such as climate change, hunting, and oil drilling. These challenges have pushed some Arctic animals to hit the road and migrate elsewhere.

Unfortunately, for those creatures that can’t just pack up and leave due to their cold climate adaptations, their populations are dwindling. This article zooms in on the plight of the 17 most endangered animals at the North Pole, shedding light on how the Arctic crisis is taking a toll on their survival.

Key Points

#AnimalScientific NameThreats and Causes of Endangerment
1PtarmiganLagopus mutaWarmer winter conditions, global warming, habitat fragmentation
2Polar BearsUrsus maritimusClimate change, habitat loss due to melting ice
3Beluga WhaleDelphinapterus leucasCommercial whaling, predation by polar bears
4Prairie Pigeon (Eskimo Curlew)Eskimo curlewHabitat loss, potential extinction
5WalrusOdobenus rosmarusClimate change, loss of sea ice, extreme weather conditions
7Musk OxOvibos moschatusOverhunting, population reduction, potential extinction
8Wood BisonBison bison athabascaeThreatened due to population decline, habitat loss
9Snowy OwlBubo scandiacusGlobal warming, habitat loss, vulnerability to extinction
10Caribou/Arctic ReindeerRangifer tarandusPopulation decline, various threats contributing to decline
11NarwhalMonodon monocerosOverfishing for ivory tusks, climate change, ship collisions
12Arctic Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinusDDT pesticide, significant population decline
13Sei WhalesBalaenoptera borealisExcessive commercial whaling, critically endangered
14Arctic WolfCanis lupus arctosRecently added to the Red List of Endangered Species
15Ringed SealPusa hispidaPopulation decline, habitat loss, protected under MMPA

#1 Ptarmigan 

Colin Canterbury/USFWS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the Ptarmigan, a beautiful bird closely related to the prairie grouse, belonging to the Lagopus muta family. These birds inhabit alpine and arctic tundras in the northern hemisphere and prefer treeless areas in extremely frosty places. The white-tailed ptarmigan, a common species, calls the North Pole’s tundra home.

Scientific NameLagopus muta
HabitatAlpine and arctic tundras in the northern hemisphere
Preferred EnvironmentTreeless areas in extremely frosty places
Common SpeciesWhite-tailed ptarmigan
ThreatsWarmer winter conditions, global warming
Population ImpactSerious decline, increasing fragmentation
Conservation EffortsPetition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Request for protection under the Endangered Species Act
Outcome of PetitionUnfortunately declined

Despite their stunning existence, Ptarmigans face threats that have led to population decline and fragmentation. Efforts for protection were made, but unfortunately, the petition for safeguarding under the Endangered Species Act was declined. This raises concerns about the future of these unique birds in the wake of environmental challenges.

#2 Polar Bears

polar bears endangered animals

Enter the Polar Bear, scientifically identified as Ursus maritimus, a hypercarnivorous giant often synonymous with the North Pole. These magnificent creatures, typically found in the Arctic Circle, are critically endangered in the North Pole’s wildlife.
If you are a polar bear enthusiast you can discover the World’s Largest land predatore by reading our dedicated article on these predatores.

Scientific NameUrsus maritimus
HabitatPrimarily in the Arctic Circle
Size and AdaptationLargest extant bear species, adult males up to 800 kg, adaptive to cold temperatures, spending their lives on sea ice
StatusCritically endangered
DependencyComplete reliance on sea ice, categorized as marine mammals
Threat Level (2006)Vulnerable to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Primary ThreatClimate change, leading to melting of ice packs and habitat loss

These carnivorous giants, known for their prowess, are on the brink of extinction. Designated as critically endangered by the IUCN since 2006, their population decline is primarily attributed to climate change. The melting of ice packs, integral to their way of life, poses a severe threat, emphasizing the urgent need for conservation efforts to secure the future of these remarkable marine mammals.

#3 Beluga Whale

Steve Snodgrass, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the Beluga Whale, also known as the white whale, a popular resident of the Arctic Ocean’s northeast side. These enchanting creatures are distinguished by their bright white color, undergoing a remarkable transformation from grey at birth to brown after a few months, culminating in the iconic white hue in adulthood.

Common NameBeluga Whale
HabitatNortheast side of the Arctic Ocean
Color TransformationGrey at birth, turns brown, eventually becomes bright white
Distinctive FeatureStriking bright white color
TeethApproximately 40 teeth, showcasing their skill as predators
PredatorsCommon prey for polar bears and large whales
Human ImpactCommercial whaling adds to the factors threatening their existence

These marine marvels not only possess a captivating appearance but also boast around 40 teeth, making them skilled predators. Unfortunately, factors like commercial whaling and being prey for larger animals contribute to the rapid extinction risk for these extraordinary beings. Conservation efforts are essential to secure the future of the Beluga Whale and protect their vital role in the Arctic ecosystem.

#4 Prairie Pigeon

Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Prairie Pigeon, scientifically known as Eskimo curlew, is a species teetering on extinction’s edge, primarily due to habitat loss. These exquisite shorebirds call the Arctic tundra of the North Pole home, engaging in migratory patterns dictated by seasonal changes.

Scientific NameEskimo curlew
HabitatArctic tundra of the North Pole
Migration PatternMigratory birds, shifting with the seasons
Conservation StatusCritically endangered, listed by the IUCN
ConcernsOngoing population decline, prompting concerns about potential extinction
Contradictory ClaimsUnreliable sources suggest possible extinction, while official authorities have not confirmed it yet

Despite their captivating existence, Prairie Pigeons face a grim reality with habitat loss pushing them to critical endangerment. While some sources claim their extinction, it’s crucial to note that official authorities have not officially confirmed their disappearance, emphasizing the importance of accurate information in assessing their conservation status.

#5 Walrus 

walrus endangered animals

Welcome to the world of the Walrus, a creature mirroring the plight of polar bears, relying entirely on ice packs for survival, particularly crucial for their calves. However, the alarming thawing of ice due to extreme climate conditions and global warming poses a formidable threat to these majestic creatures.

Habitat DependencyFully dependent on ice packs for survival, critical for nurturing calves
Geographic RangeInhabit frosty zones of the Arctic Ocean, also found in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
Preferred LocationsOcean shores with shallow water, providing icy floors for calf nurturing
Climate ImpactExtreme climate conditions and global warming affecting ice pack availability
Population DeclineSubstantial decline due to the challenges posed by climate change

These marine giants, accustomed to the frigid Arctic zones, now face a dire situation as climate change disrupts the availability of their essential ice packs. The result is a significant population decline, emphasizing the urgent need for conservation measures to ensure the Walrus’s survival in the face of changing environmental conditions.

#7 Musk Ox

Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the Muskox, scientifically labeled Ovibos moschatus, a majestic mammal typically found in the far northern regions, specifically native to the Arctic. These creatures boast shaggy-haired fur covering their entire body, a characteristic that has adorned the Arctic landscape for thousands of years.

Scientific NameOvibos moschatus
HabitatNative to the Arctic
AppearanceShaggy-haired fur, a distinctive feature
Historical PresenceInhabiting the Arctic region for thousands of years
Population DeclineDevastating reduction due to overhunting, dropping to just 500 individuals at one point
Conservation StatusEnlisted as endangered species since the population decline
Current PopulationContradictory information: Some sources state a stable number of 40,000 individuals

Once thriving in the Arctic, Muskox populations faced a drastic reduction, plummeting to a mere 500 individuals due to overhunting. Recognizing the urgency, the species is now enlisted as endangered. However, conflicting information surrounds their current status, with some sources suggesting a stable population of 40,000 individuals. The situation underscores the need for accurate data and continued conservation efforts for the Muskox’s survival.

#8 Wood Bison

Martin Cathrae from Charlottetown, PE, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever heard of the Wood Bison? Scientifically identified as Bison bison Athabasca, it is a unique subspecies of mountain bison primarily native to far northern regions, also recognized as the wood or mountain buffalo.

Scientific NameBison bison athabascae
Common NamesWood Bison, Wood Buffalo, Mountain Buffalo
HabitatMainly native to far northern regions
Conservation StatusEnlisted as a threatened species under the Species at Risk Act in 2003
Threatening FactorsConstant population decline
Updated StatusLater elevated to the list of endangered animals by authorities

This distinctive northern subspecies, recognized for its rarity, faced a threat to its existence, leading to its classification as a threatened species under the Species at Risk Act in 2003. Acknowledging the persistent population decline, authorities later upgraded the Wood Bison to the list of endangered animals, emphasizing the need for conservation measures to safeguard this unique subspecies.


#9 Snowy Owl 

snowy owl endangered animals

Meet the Snowy Owl, scientifically identified as Bubo scandiacus, a unique species commonly found in regions near the North Poles. Because of its appearance, it has often become synonymous with the Arctic and is on our list of Top 10 Snowy animals! These captivating creatures, also known as white or polar owls, belong to a large family of distinctive owls.

Scientific NameBubo scandiacus
Common NamesSnowy Owl, White Owl, Polar Owl
HabitatNative to Arctic Regions of the North Pole, often referred to as Arctic Owls
AppearanceMale snowy owls exhibit pure bright white skin, while females have dark brown flecks on their white skin
Migration PatternMigratory birds, changing breeding locations within the Arctic regions
Population EstimationChallenging due to constant migration, experts believe the population is decreasing
Primary ThreatGlobal warming identified as the leading cause of population decline
Conservation StatusEnlisted as vulnerable to global extinction by authorities

Despite their uniqueness and distinction as Arctic Owls, Snowy Owls face the challenging threat of global extinction. The experts point to global warming as the primary factor behind their declining population, leading authorities to designate them as vulnerable to the risk of disappearing from the global landscape.

#10 Caribou / Arctic Reindeer

arctic reindeer endangered animals

Caribou, also known as Arctic Reindeer, a creature of the far north that has been marked as vulnerable to extinction. These unique beings, the largest species of deer, call the Arctic tundra and numerous Arctic islands home.

Common NamesCaribou, Arctic Reindeer
HabitatNative to the Arctic tundra and various Arctic islands
SizeThe largest species of deer size
Conservation StatusEnlisted as vulnerable to extinction
Population DeclineDeclining for over a decade
Magnitude of DeclineEstimated drop from 4.7 million to 2.1 million, constituting a total loss of 2.6 million individuals

Despite their significance and size, Caribou face a troubling reality as their population steadily declines. Over the past decade, their numbers have dwindled significantly, with an estimation revealing a loss of 2.6 million individuals from an estimated 4.7 million, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts to reverse this decline and secure their place in the Arctic ecosystem.

#11 Narwhal

YouTube video

Introducing the Narwhal, a captivating marine creature enlisted as one of the most endangered animals at the North Pole. These medium-sized wonders, often referred to as the unicorn of the sea, possess a distinctive feature—a long ivory tusk protruding from their heads, adding to their commercial value but tragically making them targets of overfishing.

Unique FeatureLong ivory tusk, earning them the title of the unicorn of the sea
Commercial ValueTusk adds to commercial appeal, leading to overfishing for ivory tusks
Color TransformationBorn blue-gray, change to blue-black as juveniles, mottled gray as adults, and eventually grow all-white when fully sexually matured
Habitat HistoryNative to Arctic regions near the North Pole
Current PopulationRecent survey reports only three species left in the Arctic regions
Future ThreatsExpected devastating decrease due to frequent ship collisions and climate change
Conservation StatusIUCN reportedly added them to the Red List of critically endangered animals at the North Pole

Beyond their enchanting appearance, Narwhals face critical threats from overfishing, impacting their unique tusks. A recent survey reveals a stark decline in their population, with the expectation of further devastation due to frequent ship collisions and climate change. The IUCN’s inclusion of Narwhals on the Red List highlights the urgency of conservation efforts to preserve this extraordinary species in the North Pole ecosystem.

#12 Arctic Peregrine Falcon

peregrine falcon endangered animals

Meet the Peregrine Falcon, scientifically named Falco peregrinus, often referred to simply as peregrine and formerly known as the duck hawk in North America near the Northern Circle. This large-sized falcon, belonging to the Falconidae family, exhibits captivating color variations, with a blue-grey back contrasting the white underparts and a distinct totally black head.

Scientific NameFalco peregrinus
Common NamesPeregrine Falcon, Duck Hawk (formerly in North America near the Northern Circle)
SizeLarge-sized falcon
Color VariationsBlue-grey back, white underparts, totally black head
Flying SpeedAstounding 320 km/h (200 mph), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom
Conservation StatusIdentified as endangered
Primary ThreatDrastic population decline attributed to the harmful pesticide DDT
Historical CategorizationListed as an endangered species in 1984
Population DeclineAn 80% decline since 1984, with expectations of further decline

Despite its record-breaking speed, the Peregrine Falcon faces endangerment, primarily due to the detrimental effects of the pesticide DDT. Categorized as endangered since 1984, this species has witnessed an alarming 80% decline in its population, emphasizing the urgency of conservation efforts to safeguard this remarkable falcon from further decline.

#13 Sei Whales 

YouTube video

Introducing the Sei Whale, a distinctive marine creature indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere, now teetering on the brink of extinction and recognized as the most critically endangered animal by the IUCN.
Unfortuantely this stunning animal is also on our list of 11 most endangered whales.

Scientific NameBalaenoptera borealis
Conservation StatusIdentified as the most critically endangered animal by the IUCN
Baleen Whale RankThird-largest among baleen whales
TypeUnique toothed baleen whale
Threatening FactorNearing global extinction primarily due to excessive commercial whaling

The Sei Whale, scientifically known as Balaenoptera borealis, stands as a unique toothed baleen whale and holds the unfortunate distinction of being the most critically endangered animal, perilously close to extinction. Like many of its marine counterparts, this gigantic mammal faces the imminent threat of global extinction, primarily driven by the relentless impact of excessive commercial whaling. Urgent conservation measures are crucial to prevent the disappearance of this extraordinary species from our planet.

#14 Arctic Wolf

arctic wolf endangered animals

Meet the Arctic Wolf, scientifically identified as Canis lupus arctos, also fondly known as the white wolf or polar wolf owing to its strikingly white fur.

Scientific NameCanis lupus arctos
Common NamesArctic Wolf, White Wolf, Polar Wolf
HabitatNative to the High Arctic tundra of the Northern Pole
DistributionSome species exist in Southern regions, albeit in significantly smaller numbers
Conservation StatusRecently added to the Red List of Endangered Species by the IUCN

This fluffy inhabitant of the High Arctic tundra, the Arctic Wolf, has recently found itself in the spotlight of endangerment. Previously, their conservation status may not have been a focal point, but recent declarations by reliable sources indicate that the IUCN has added them to the Red List of Endangered Species, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to ensure the survival of this remarkable species.

#15 Ringed Seal

Michael Cameron (NOAA), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least the Ringed Seal, scientifically identified as Pusa hispida, an Arctic native calling the Northern Hemisphere home.

Scientific NamePusa hispida
SizeRelatively small seal
FamilyBelongs to the order Carnivora of the Mammalia family
Distinctive FeaturesBody covered with distinctive dark spots, named for grey rings on its body
Habitat PreferenceInhabits snow-covered caves, known to build their own snow caves for breeding and protecting pups
Conservation StatusEnlisted as endangered and protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act

This small yet distinctive member of the seal family, the Ringed Seal, has faced a recent decline in population. In response to this trend, they are now recognized as endangered and benefit from protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Urgent conservation measures are crucial to safeguard these unique seals and their role in the Arctic ecosystem.

Summary of the Most Endangered Animals at the North Pole

YouTube video

Despite its glacial climate and frosty terrain we can see that the North Pole is still home to countless of amazing animals. Sadly most of them are in a precarious situation due to climate change – in other words it is yet another reason for us to be more caring about our beautiful planet and its creatures.

Thank you for reading this article! If you still want to learn more about endangered species from other corners of the world go and have a look at our article The Most Endangered Animals or Animals in The North Pole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most endangered species in the North Pole?

The Sei Whale holds the unfortunate distinction of being the most critically endangered species in the North Pole, as recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

What is an endangered animal in the Arctic?

Among the endangered animals in the Arctic, the Arctic Wolf has recently been added to the Red List of Endangered Species by the IUCN.

What animal lives on the North Pole?

Several animals inhabit the North Pole, with notable examples being the Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Beluga Whale, and Narwhal. Each species is uniquely adapted to the harsh Arctic conditions.

What are 3 reasons why polar bears are endangered?

a. Climate Change: Polar bears rely on sea ice for hunting seals, their primary food source. The melting of ice due to climate change results in habitat loss and reduced hunting opportunities.
b. Oil Drilling: Human activities, including oil drilling in the Arctic, pose a threat to polar bear habitats, leading to increased disturbances and potential oil spills.
c. Hunting: Although regulated, hunting continues to impact polar bear populations. Climate change exacerbates this issue as bears are forced to travel longer distances to find food, making them more vulnerable to hunting pressures.