New York's Endangered Species

Get to know our state's threatened animals

We usually think of endangered species as wolves out West or Jaguars in Central and South America, but we have threatened species here in New York as well.

The Karner Blue Butterfly is suffering a decline in its population (a 90% decrease between 1970 and 2004) due to human activities such as agriculture, urbanization and fire suppression. Blue lupine, an essential plant for the survival of the butterfly, has been reduced due to fire suppression.

Peregrine falcons, which are city-dwelling birds, lost huge numbers due to exposure to DDT and other chemicals. By 1965, the entire New York population had disappeared. Their numbers have steadily increased since DDT was banned in New York, but they are still in peril.

Humpback whales, which have been spotted in the waters underneath the Verrazano Bridge, are threatened by hunters, fishing gear, collision with ships, commercial whale watching and habitat degradation.

Endangered animals around the world face general threats like poaching and pollution. But most importantly, these species are endangered because of the destruction of their habitats, which is why it’s so important to conserve them.

To help protect these animals in their natural habitats, conservation organizations have a variety of initiatives, such as reducing fragmentation, purchasing land and conservation easements, and working with local communities to educate them about these animals.

The Karner Blue Butterfly had made an amazing recovery in New York. Thanks to habitat restoration efforts, we have seen the Karner population jump from less than 1,000 in 2003, to over 20,000 this past spring!

Thanks to the ban on DDT, peregrine falcons have come back into the wild and their numbers are growing. They have been so successful that the protection for them has changed from helping them breed to just locating and monitoring them.

Even the Humpback whale is showing some signs of recovery. Though their population is still in very low numbers, that number has steadily increased throughout the years thanks to international whaling laws and protection.

All of these animals are local to New York State. Find them on the shores of Jamaica Bay, among the trees of the Queens Botanical Garden, and on display at your local zoos. This is a great way to get more information on how you can help these animals – after all seeing is caring!


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