Threatened and Endangered Species
Animals and plants facing extinction or extirpation from Nebraska.
Threatened and endangered species are animals and plants whose continued existence in Nebraska is in jeopardy. By officially designating a species as endangered or threatened, plans can be put in place to restore the species or to prevent extirpation or extinction. Once a species is designated or listed as endangered, a state law called the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act automatically prohibits take, exportation and possession, and imposes severe penalties on violators. More than 1,000 proposed projects that would be authorized, funded or carried out by state agencies are reviewed annually as part of a mandatory consultation process designed to prevent a state action from jeopardizing the existence of an endangered or threatened species.
State recovery plans for endangered or threatened species identify, describe and schedule the actions necessary to restore populations of these animals and plants to a more secure status. Plans are implemented on a priority basis, dealing first with species in the most immediate danger, whose life requirements are best known, and those which offer the best opportunity for success. A variety of wildlife management techniques are used, including reintroduction, captive propagation, protection of habitat through various forms of acquisition, habitat manipulation and development, public education and strict legal protection.
Click on a species below to learn more about its range, habitat, population status, and the conservation efforts being used to manage it.
Threatened and endangered mammals and birds
Threatened and endangered fish
Threatened and endangered insects, mollusks and reptiles
Threatened and endangered plants
Natural Legacy Project
The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project is part of a nationwide effort to address the needs of declining wildlife populations. More than two dozen species of plants and animals in Nebraska are listed as threatened or endangered. Overall, more than 700 species have been identified as at-risk in Nebraska. The mission is to refine and implement a blueprint for conserving Nebraska’s flora, fauna and natural habitats through the proactive, voluntary conservation actions of partners, communities and individuals.
Natural Heritage Program
The only comprehensive source of information on the status and location of Nebraska’s rarest and most threatened species and natural communities. We share information with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders to ensure that Nebraska’s native flora and fauna are conserved. Data and information from the Heritage Program was an integral part of the development of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project.
There are estimated to be more than 30,000 species in the state, the majority of which are insects. There is simply not enough time, personnel, knowledge or money to work on all these species individually. Fortunately, these species do not occur randomly but co-occur in assemblages (natural communities or habitats) that are repeated across the landscape. The challenge is to focus on a subset of species and communities that will have a high likelihood of conserving the full array of biological diversity. One approach that has been used is known as the coarse filter/fine filter approach.
In order to prioritize which species to focus scarce resources on, the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project Science Team developed a two-tiered approach to identifying those species that may be at-risk of extinction or extirpation from the state. The Tier I species are those that are globally or nationally at-risk. The Tier II list contains those species that are at-risk within Nebraska while apparently doing well in other parts of their range. The rationale for the two-tiered list was to focus attention and resources first on those species that may be headed for global extinction (and federal listing as Threatened or Endangered) and secondarily focus on those species that may be facing extirpation from Nebraska but appear to be stable globally. The Tier I list includes species that are currently state or federally listed as well as those that may be headed for listing. One goal of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project is to prevent imperilment of species and the need for listing and another goal is recover currently listed species to allow for their delisting.
Threatened and endangered species are a subset of at-risk species.
There are 19 insect pollinators on the Tier 1 species list in Nebraska. This ranking means that they are the most at risk of global or national extinction. These are beneficial insects, including butterflies, moths, and bumble bees, that the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project conserves not only because they are part of the state’s native biodiversity but also because these pollinators are providing valuable ecosystem services. For example, as much as 1/3rd of crops depend on pollinators to increase their production.
- Bucholz Black Dash (Euphyes conspicua bucholzi)
- Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus kumskaka)
- Colorado Rita Dotted-Blue (Euphilotes rita coloradensis)
- Hourglass Drone Fly (Eristalis brousii)
- Iowa Skipper (Atrytone arogos iowa)
- Kohler’s Fritillary (Boloria selene sabulocollis)
- Married Underwing (Catocala nuptialis)
- Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
- Mottled Duskywing (Erynnis martialis)
- Nebraska Fritillary (Boloria selene nebraskensis)
- Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe)
- Regal Fritillary (Argynnis idalia)
- Smoky-eyed Brown (Lethe eurydice fumosa)
- Southern Plains Bumble Bee (Bombus fraternus)
- Suckley’s Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus suckleyi)
- Tawny Crescent (Phyciodes batesi)
- Two-spotted Skipper (Euphyes bimacula)
- Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis)
- Whitney Underwing (Catocala whitneyi)
Examples of efforts focused on Nebraska’s endangered and threatened species include:
- Efforts are being made to re-establish breeding populations of several wildlife species that were extirpated from the state long ago. For example, the endangered river otter is rebounding in Nebraska after being extirpated in the state. More than 100 otters captured in other states and Canadian provinces have been transported to Nebraska and released into major river drainages, where they have again begun to flourish.
- Nesting colonies of the endangered least tern and threatened piping plover are documented and monitored to determine reproductive success and to delineate essential nesting habitat. Data is used to identify management practices necessary for restoration of the two species. River sandbars have been cleared of vegetation to provide suitable nesting habitat. Nesting colonies susceptible to human disturbance are posted with signs to prevent intrusions.
- Whooping crane migration stopover sites are being documented and monitored so that threatened, essential habitat can be protected.
- Research on the swift fox, blowout penstemon, least tern and mountain plover, conducted by universities under contract with the Game and Parks Commission, has identified factors limiting the survival of these species, and has helped determine how the species can be restored or how further population declines can be prevented.
- The endangered blowout penstemon has been propagated in University of Nebraska greenhouses and successfully transplanted to suitable habitat in the Nebraska Sandhills.
For more information
There is an amazing amount of information available on threatened & endangered species. Check out these trusted sites: