5 Oregon Imperiled Species You Need to Know About

wolf overlooking cliffside

For Endangered Species Day, we wanted to highlight 5 Oregon imperiled species and how you can support efforts to help them recover!


#1: Wolves

Wolves were deliberately eradicated from Oregon by the late 1940s and today the population in the state is a meager 175. On Feb 10, 2022 a court protected wolves in 44 states. Unfortunately, that does not include the Northern Rockies populations, which includes Eastern Oregon. Human-caused mortality, rampant poaching, and state mismanagement have put these wolves in danger. Learn more about our wolf efforts here!

Photo by Dennis Higgs


#2: California Condors

From 1982 when there were only 22 birds left in the entire world to today with numbers over 500, California Condor recovery is a quintessential success story. Oregonians also have the chance to see this majestic bird for the first time in over a century, as two condors were released on May 3rd in Northern California, very close to the Oregon border! Although progress is being made there is still much work to be done until this species is self-sustaining in the wild. Learn more about the Yurok Tribe's recent release here!

Photo by Chris Trent

#3: Sea Otters

In the 1800s sea otters were extirpated from the west coast, and are only recently making a comeback to their ancestral habitat. Although recovering, sea otter populations are still a far cry from historical numbers and are still not in Oregon. We are working to reintroduce this keystone species in the near future so that Oregonians will one day be able to see them on our coast. Learn more about the "lost" sea otters here!

#4: Coho Salmon

Coho salmon populations today are probably less than 6% of what they were in the 1940s, and there has been at least a 70% decline since the 1960s. Unfortunately, there are still many factors that put these salmon at risk including changes in ocean and climatic conditions, habitat loss from dam construction and urban development and degraded water quality from agricultural and logging practices. Learn more about the Coho Salmon here! Legislation is currently going through Congress that can help save the Coho Salmon's habitat. The River Democracy Act would be the largest waters protection act if passed and needs your support to push it over the finish line. Learn about it here!

Photo by NOAA Fisheries

#5: Silverspot Butterflies

The silverspot butterfly once ranged from Washington to California, but in 1980 (when it was first listed as endangered) there were only two known population locations in “salt-spray” meadows south of Yachats, Oregon. Habitat loss due to coastal development is a major limiting factor for the species and it is vulnerable to extinction because of the small size and isolation of habitat-friendly sites. Further action must be taken to protect this imperiled species and the native, coastal grasslands on which it depends. Learn more about the Silverspot recovery efforts happening now on our coast here!

Photo by Oregon Zoo

How you can help these species

Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) specifically helps imperiled and vulnerable species by investing $1.3 billion into state wildlife agencies and Native American tribes for wildlife conservation and recovery programs.