New York's Endangered Species

Get to know our state's threatened animals

The endangered species that first come to mind are often species like polar bears and elephants in far-off places, but we also have threatened species right here in New York.

The Karner blue butterfly suffered a decline in its population - a 90% decrease between 1970 and 2004 - due to human activities such as agriculture, urbanization and fire suppression. 

Despite leatherback sea turtles' ability to survive in a wide range of temperatures, they often get caught in fishing nets or poached for their meat. Egg collection is illegal in most countries, but sadly, those laws aren't always enforced.

In recent decades, piping plover populations have drastically declined, especially in the Great Lakes region, where important breeding habitats have been replaced by shoreline development and recreation.


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 species around the world face general threats like poaching and pollution. But most frequently, 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, we must conserve habitat, reduce threats and work with the local communities to educate them about these species.

The Karner blue butterfly has made an amazing recovery in New York. Thanks to habitat restoration and conservation efforts, we have seen the Karner population nearing its recovery goal of 3,000!

On St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Conservancy has protection and monitoring programs to help leatherbacks and other sea turtles increase their rates of survival.

Over the years, our Mashomack Preserve on Long Island has continued to be a favorite nesting place for piping plovers. Establishing safe places like this will help their population rebound.

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. Recently, whales have been spotted swimming in the Hudson River.

All of these animals are local to New York State. Find them in the wetlands of Jamaica Bay, among the forests of the Adirondacks or along the shores of Long Island. Do your part to respect their habitats and educate others!


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