Rare, Threatened & Endangered Species Overview
The Endangered Species Act establishes protections for plants and animals considered to be endangered or threatened (i.e. listed species). West Virginia is a permanent home to 22 federally endangered species (17 animals, four plants) and seven federally threatened species (five animals, two plants). Three additional listed species are considered occasional, or accidental visitors. Of the permanent resident listed species, three are West Virginia endemics, that is, are found only within the state of West Virginia. There are numerous other West Virginia endemic species known to science, and likely many more in our many caves, springs and wildernesses that have yet to be scientifically described. To conserve these species, the WVDNR maintains an active rare, threatened, and endangered species program (WVDNR RTE).
The WVDNR RTE species program implements conservation actions for all federally listed species in West Virginia, several delisted species, and a number of species of greatest conservation need that are not federally listed. Key responsibilities of the RTE program include: 1) conducting surveys for RTE species to document their distribution in West Virginia; 2) monitoring the status and trends of populations of RTE species; 3) developing best management and conservation practices for RTE species through the application of sound science; 4) implementing conservation and management programs to recover RTE species; 5) fostering conservation partnerships; 6) providing educational outreach; and 7) providing expert input on RTE species conservation and policy at local, regional, and national levels.
The WVDNR RTE program has made significant contributions to conservation of federally listed species, including toward the federal delisting of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and running buffalo clover. Although the WVDNR regularly implements new projects to recover listed species, many projects are long-term efforts. For example, the WVDNR has monitored populations of the Virginia big-eared bat and Indiana bat for over 30 years and has records that are over 100 years old. Long term project efforts also include programs to acquire or protect significant habitats and areas used by federally listed species. To that end, the WVDNR has made fee-simple purchases of a number of caves, portions of Cheat Canyon, worked with private landowners to implement conservation easements on property throughout the state, and has provided technical information and support to non-governmental organizations and private industry partners.
New Project Spotlight
In conjunction with the WVDNR Wildlife Diversity Fish Program, the RTE program has initiated a program to manage and restore populations of the endangered Candy Darter, a small, colorful fish found only in West Virginia and Virginia. Although listed due to several threats, hybridization with the Variegate Darter due to translocations of bait fish poses immediate threats to this species. To address these threats the WVDNR has developed, with input from conservation partners and independent taxa experts, a comprehensive population management plan for this species that will guide propagation and repatriation efforts for non-hybrid animals into suitable habitat. This program is conducted collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service West Virginia Field Office, U.S. Forest Service Monongahela National Forest, and West Virginia University.
Locations of listed species are protected under state law. For information on RTE species for proposed development projects, please contact the WVDNR Coordination Unit. For questions regarding the Endangered Species Act, please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For general information on RTE species, including conservation and management best management practices, please contact the WVDNR Elkins Operations Center.