Between 1973 and 1999, 43 species in the United States were reclassified from endangered to threatened or removed entirely from the Endangered Species List. Of these, 23 were identified as recovered. In 1999 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a list of 33 additional species for possible reclassification and/or delisting. We initiated this study to examine why some endangered species recover but others continue to decline and to identify differences in management activities between these two groups. We defined recovered/recovering species as previously recovered species and the additional recovered/recovering species listed by the USFWS. We defined declining species as those identified as declining in the most recent USFWS Report to Congress. Information on recovered/recovering and declining species was gathered from relevant literature, recovery plans, U.S. Federal Register documents, and individuals responsible for the recovery management of each species. We used this information to examine (1) the percentage of current and historic range covered by management activities; (2) threats affecting the species; (3) population sizes at the time of listing; (4) current versus historic range size; and (5) percentage of recovery management objectives completed. Although few statistical analyses provided significant results, those that did suggest the following differences between recovered/recovering and declining species: (1) recovered/recovering species face threats that are easier to address; (2) recovered/recovering species occupy a greater percentage of their historic range; and (3) recovered/recovering species have a greater percentage of their recovery management objectives completed. Those species with threats easier to address and that occupy a greater percentage of their historic range are recovered/recovering. In contrast, declining species face threats more difficult to address and occupy significantly less of their historic range. If this remains true, future species recovery may require more time and resources.
Additional publication details
Examining differences between recovered and declining endangered species