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Home > Wildlife > Species Information > Maine Endangered Species Program > Endangered and Threatened Species > Listing Categories
Maine statute recognizes two categories of listed species:
ENDANGERED: any species of fish or wildlife that has been determined by the commissioner to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. An endangered species is in immediate danger of extirpation from the state because of critically low or rapidly declining numbers. Habitat loss or degradation, overexploitation, pollution, disease, and competition with other species are all possible causes for decline. The continued existence of these species in the state is unlikely without implementing special measures to protect these species or their habitats.
THREATENED: any species of fish or wildlife that has been determined by the commissioner as likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A threatened species is not in as critical jeopardy of extirpation as an endangered species, but will probably become endangered if populations experience further decline. Threatened species include indigenous wildlife that are rare and declining within the state, and that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. There are no differences in terms of regulatory policy between endangered and threatened listing categories.
MDIFW keeps a third, unofficial list of Special Concern species. These are not protected by endangered species statutes and have no special legislative protection. However, they are believed to be vulnerable and could easily become threatened or endangered because of restricted distribution, low or declining numbers, specialized habitat needs or limits, or other factors. They include species suspected of being threatened or endangered or likely to become so, but for which insufficient data are available. Currently, there are just over 100 species on the state's Special Concern list.
Other terms frequently used in endangered species listing include extinct, extirpated, and endemic:
Extinct: An animal that has died out or is no longer in existence anywhere on Earth. Extinct species that once occurred in Maine include the passenger pigeon, Atlantic gray whale, sea mink, great auk, and Labrador duck.
Extirpated: An animal that has been eliminated from Maine, but still occurs elsewhere. Species extirpated from Maine, but that still exist elsewhere, include the gray wolf, woodland caribou, Karner blue butterfly, timber rattlesnake, eastern cougar, American burying beetle, persius duskywing (butterfly), frosted elfin (butterfly), regal fritillary (butterfly), tawny crescent (butterfly), chestnut clearwing (moth), wolverine, Eskimo curlew, and common murre.
Endemic: An animal that is restricted to, or present in, a small region and found nowhere else in the world. Species and subspecies endemic (or near endemic) to Maine include the Katahdin arctic butterfly, Clayton's copper butterfly, Tomah mayfly, and Roaring Brook mayfly.
Maine's Endangered and Threatened Species Lists
Maine has two endangered wildlife lists - one state and one federal. At one time, the Maine Legislature automatically placed federally listed species on the state list, but no longer. As a result, some species are state-listed only, others federal-listed only, and some are found on both lists. When species are federally listed, the listing justification is printed in the Federal Register. This justification includes the species' historic range, which may include Maine.
In 1997, MDIFW did not nominate some federally listed species that occur in Maine for consideration for state listing. Either insufficient data were available to make a listing determination (e.g., gray wolf and eastern cougar) or the species was believed extirpated from the state (e.g., Eskimo curlew, Karner blue, and American burying beetle). Some species (e.g., Atlantic salmon and Canada lynx) were federally listed after 1997. In the future, some federally listed species should be considered for state listing as new data are obtained.
Federally listed sea turtles and whales were dropped from the state list in 1997. After the 1997 state listing process was completed, MDIFW entered into an agreement with the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to give DMR primary responsibility for managing and listing marine turtles and mammals. DMR may propose that any of these species be placed on the state list using the same state listing process outlined earlier.
For more information contact Maine's Endangered Species Program at (207) 941-4466.
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