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News Celebrate Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day will be observed on May 15. Here are five things you might not know about endangered species.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program
Endangered Species Day

The 15th Annual Endangered Species Day will be observed on May 15, 2020 to recognize conservation efforts to protect our nation’s endangered species. Here are five things you might not know about endangered species:

  1. Endangered species live in Massachusetts. The word "endangered" may conjure images of polar bears or rhinos, but there are endangered species right here in Massachusetts! The Massachusetts Endangered Species Act List protects 173 animals and 259 plants, including crawling barrens tiger beetles, whistling upland sandpipers, and beautiful plants like the ram’s head lady’s slipper. From the big to the small, we care about protecting all of them!   

  2. The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). Over the past 30 years, a lot has been done for the native plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates that are either at risk, or may become at risk, of extinction. MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) conserves and protects the most vulnerable animals and plants in Massachusetts and the habitats upon which they depend. Many species have benefited from the protection afforded under MESA and the work of NHESP over the years, including the restoration and conservation of several notable species such as the peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Currently, there are more than 400 native plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates that are officially listed under MESA as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in the Commonwealth.  

  3. Endangered species are at risk of extinction. Rare species face many threats, including habitat loss and degradation, climate change, disease, competition with invasive species, and pollution. Some rare species are only found in a few locations statewide with very specific habitat requirements, making them especially vulnerable. For example, the eastern spadefoot is challenged by the species’ very specific habitat requirements. First, as a burrowing animal, they need loose, sandy, or loamy soils that generally lack stone. Second, to breed and deposit their eggs, spadefoots rely on shallow basins that have a lot of sun exposure, fill with water as a result of surface flooding, and dry out in a matter of weeks following inundation. These conditions don’t occur in tandem in many places, and a number of sites that once supplied suitable habitat have been lost to development. MassWildlife's NHESP is partnering with residents, municipalities, and land trusts to monitor and restore the last remaining populations of eastern spadefoot from inland areas of New England.  

  1. NHESP staff are diligently working to recover rare species and their habitats. NHESP’s conservation efforts including research, land protection, habitat management, education, and regulations, has paid off for many rare species. For example, the Northern red-bellied cooter is the focus of the longest and most intensive freshwater headstart program in existence. Each year, MassWildlife collects 100–150 hatchling turtles from the wild. These hatchlings are raised in captivity for 8–9 months, producing yearlings that at the time of release are approximately the size of a 3-year-old in the wild. The larger yearlings are significantly less likely to be eaten by predators and therefore more likely to make it to adulthood. Since 1985, over 4,450 headstarted turtles have been successfully released! Learn more about rare species success stories. 

  2. You can make a difference! Help MassWildlife monitor rare species by telling us when you see them. You can also make a big impact by donating directly to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Please consider making a donation today of $4.32 to honor the 432 animals and plants on the MA Endangered Species Act List. Find out more about reporting rare species and donating by visiting

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.

MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program 

The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state, as well as the protection of the natural communities that make up their habitats.