The Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was created in 1973 to help plant and animal populations recover and avoid extinction. The act lists species associated with a certain level of concern, including threatened and endangered. Possession, sale, removal, and transport of endangered species is prohibited, and can carry both civil and criminal penalties for violations. The federal government provides funding for state-run programs that aim to protect threatened species, which can include inventory of species as well as funding for the acquisition of identified threatened habitats.
Rhode Island is home to a number of rare plants and animals, which hold both state and federal listings. The state’s ESA protects those plants identified by the Rhode Island Natural Heritage Program, which conducts a statewide inventory of rare and vulnerable species. The program also helps to prioritize areas of concern for protection efforts. Visit the Natural Heritage Program web site for official listings of rare, threatened, and endangered species within Rhode Island. To learn more about the Endangered Species Act, click here.
State-Listed Endangered Species
- Ringed boghaunter, Williamsonia lintneri
- Eastern spadefoot toad, Scaphiopus holbrookii
- Northern diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys t. terrapin
- American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius
- Several species of the family Orchidaceae (Orchids)
- See Rare Native Animals of RI and Rare Native Plants of RI for complete state listings.
Federally Listed Species (Threatened or Endangered)
- American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus
- Shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum
- Small whorled pogonia, Isotria medeoloides