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Threatened and Endangered Species

Terminology for Threatened and Endangered Species

Species may be classified at the state level as Threatened or Endangered, and/or at the federal level as Threatened, Endangered, Proposed Threatened or Endangered, or Candidate.

Endangered wildlife species are those which are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.

Threatened wildlife species are those likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future unless conservation measures are enacted.

Proposed Endangered or Threatened (PE or PT) wildlife species are those that have officially been proposed by the USFWS or NOAA Fisheries to be listed as Endangered or Threatened under the ESA or by ODFW under the OESA. State and federal agencies generally manage proposed species as if they are protected, but proposed species do not typically receive legal protection until they are officially listed.

Candidate wildlife species are those that the USFWS has sufficient information to support a proposal to list under the ESA. Candidate species have not been listed because other, higher priority species require listing first, or because resources are not available for the USFWS to list them. There are few candidate wildlife species in Oregon.

Because there is so much interest in threatened and endangered species, a tremendous amount of information has been gathered about them, and there are many efforts and projects to promote their conservation in Oregon. In Oregon, information on the distribution, status, and biology of at-risk species (those at-risk of becoming extinct, including threatened and endangered species) is maintained by the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC), in addition to the state and federal agencies. ORBIC is part of a network of Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers currently distributed throughout North and South America, coordinated by NatureServe. NatureServe is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action. NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs are the leading source for information about rare and endangered species, much of which is available through the NatureServe Explorer.

Once a species becomes threatened or endangered, recovery can be biologically difficult, as well as expensive and controversial. There have are many efforts to voluntary prevent species from declining to the point of needing protection under law. The Oregon Conservation Strategy is designed to maintain healthy habitats for fish, wildlife and people, hopefully preventing and reversing species declines. There are many other valuable assessments that serve as watch lists for focused, preventative for focused, preventative action, including sensitive species, species of concern, and state and global ranks.