Endangered & Threatened Species
Wildlife has always been central to Maine’s identity and culture. Mainers and visitors alike value our state’s native species for their ecological, historical, recreational, educational, and scientific significance, not to mention their pure beauty.
In the early 1970s, Maine citizens began to raise concerns that certain species seemed to be declining or disappearing; and in response, the State Legislature passed the Maine Endangered Species Act of 1975. The Act made it a State policy to conserve all wildlife populations and ecosystems, and charged the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with carrying out that mission.
This marked a major transition from MDIFW’s hunting and fishing roots to our role today as protectors and preservers of all Maine wildlife. Since then, Maine hasn’t lost a single species – but our agency hasn’t gone it alone.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Mays, MDIFW
Conserving Maine's Wildlife: An All-In Effort
Conserving endangered and threatened species is an effort that extends from the MDIFW wildlife division throughout the entire Department and beyond – involving conservation partners, complementary government agencies, local businesses, and generous citizens. We also routinely team with our cohorts from other states and with national groups.
Some Major Milestones Reached, Others in Sight
Perhaps the most dramatic species restoration has been that of Maine's bald eagle population, which fully recovered in 2009 after 31 years on our state's Endangered or Threatened list. In 1976, only 31 nesting pairs could be found statewide. But thanks to an incredible statewide effort involving multiple agencies, organizations, and landowners, that number now exceeds 630.
Maine's other eagle species, the golden eagle, is an Endangered species in Maine. It is of concern throughout its range due to its small population size, vulnerability to human-related threats, and considerable gaps in knowledge about habitat use and movement. The Maine Golden Eagle Study project aims to address these knowledge gaps to inform management actions by raising awareness of golden eagles in Maine and increasing participation in conservation efforts through community science.
Other species formerly on the brink that now show steady growth include the Peregrine Falcon and the Piping Plover. And with the help of partners and growing number of community scientists, we're working hard to bring the rest of Maine's 57 endangered and threatened species back up to healthy population levels.
What Does It Take to Save a Species?
It’s never a short-term process, and it’s one that requires multiple approaches. Some examples include:
Monitoring – directly and through community science projects like the Maine Bumblebee Atlas
Research – into limiting factors and threats, like how new roads impact turtle mortality
Interventions – such as the fences we built to give Piping Plover nest sites a better chance
Landowner Consulting – if endangered species are living on your land, we can teach you how to help them thrive
Habitat Protection or Enhancement – the Bald Eagles are back, thanks in part to this approach
Join the Effort
The future of Maine’s wildlife lies in the hands of those who value it. If you’ve read this far, that’s probably you. A contribution of any amount makes a statement, and a difference. Check out our Support Maine Wildlife page for different ways to do so throughout the year.