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Listing Species Under the Endangered Species Act

Before a species can receive the protection provided by the Endangered Species Act, it must first be added to the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. A species is added to this list when we determine that it has met definition of endangered or threatened under the Act. Learn more about the process.

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A black and white Southern Resident killer whale leaping out of the water. The fin of another whale is visible and a boat and mountains are in the background. A Southern Resident killer whale leaps out of the water. Credit: Candace Emmons
Mother and calf humpback whales near Maui, Hawaii. Humpback whales in the Pacific Ocean swim approximately 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii to spend the winter in the warmer tropical waters. Credit: Jason Moore (NOAA permit #18786) Mother and calf humpback whales near Maui, Hawaii. Humpback whales in the Pacific Ocean swim approximately 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii to spend the winter in the warmer tropical waters. Credit: Jason Moore (NOAA permit #18786)
Tail of one north Pacific right whale shown as it dives next to second whale with head above water. Two North Pacific right whales in Barnabas Trough, just south of Kodiak Island, Alaska.