Protected Species

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects species of plants and animals that are in danger of extinction. The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The USFWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife.

Currently, 67 federally threatened and endangered species are known to occur in North Carolina.  The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Standards require participating landowners to manage land to protect these threatened and endangered species as follows:

ATFS Standard 5, Performance Measure 5.1
Forest management activities shall protect habitats and communities occupied by threatened or endangered species as required by law.
Indicator 5.1.1
Landowner shall confer with natural resource agencies, state natural resource heritage programs, qualified natural resource professionals or review other sources of information to determine occurrences of threatened or endangered species on the property and their habitat requirements.
Indicator 5.1.2
Forest management activities shall incorporate measures to protect identified threatened or endangered species on the property.

The agencies below maintain statewide lists of protected plant and animal species and information on their habitat requirements. Review each agency’s specific information to help identify known occurrences of these species on your land.

The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program maintains an inventory and serves as the state’s data source of information on state and federal threatened and endangered plants and wildlife, habitats of particular conservation concern and stewardship actions designed to benefit these important natural resources. On their website you can find:

Using Natural Heritage Program data, the USFWS has developed a County List of federally protected species by each North Carolina county. For information about species that might be present on your Tree Farm search by county here.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is the state government agency created to conserve and sustain the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. NCWRC is responsible for the listing and protection of the state’s nongame species under N.C. General Statutes – Chapter 113 Article 25. On their website you can find the following about protected species:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  makes certain that rare and imperiled species get the protection they need through listing them to the federal list of threatened and endangered species, working to recover them; and reviewing certain projects to minimize or eliminate impacts to listed species. USFWS maintains a database of listed species that is searchable by state, species or county.   On their website you can find the following about protected species: