Endangered species found in Wake County

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County is home to several endangered species that range from fish to birds.

Bald eagleHaliaeetus leucocephalus

Status: Protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

In Aug. 2007, bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list because their populations recovered sufficiently thanks to several factors – including being federally protected.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the bald eagle was close to extinction 40 years ago due to habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source.

Habitat protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the federal government’s banning of DDT, and conservation actions taken by the American public has helped bald eagles recover.


Cape Fear shinerNotropis mekistocholas

Status: Endangered

This small minnow was first described as a new species in 1971. It is found in tributaries and mainstreams of the Deep River, Haw River, Rocky River and Cape Fear River in Chatham, Harnett, Lee, Moore and Randolph counties.

Changes in its habitat due to dams and toxins in the water are the shiners’ main threats.

The Carolina madtom is only found in North Carolina. It was once common in the Neuse and Tar river basins but is now found mostly in the Tar River Basin. (USFWS)

Carolina madtomNoturus furiosus

Status: At risk species

The Carolina madtom is a catfish found in the Neuse and Tar river basins. It can grow up to 5 inches in length.

Several factors have played into the decline of the Carolina madtom, including invasive species, reduced stream flow and pollution.

“Human-caused increases in river water temperatures have been identified as a factor in the decline of the madtom,” the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Neuse River waterdog (Photo by NCWRC)


Neuse River waterdogNecturus lewisi

Status: At risk species

In July 2020, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said it proposed naming the freshwater salamander as threatened.

“The waterdog and the madtom can only be found in streams that flow into the Tar and Neuse rivers of North Carolina,” the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said.

It can have blue or black spots and can grow up to 11 inches long.

“The major threats to this species arise from water development projects such as the construction of impoundments and stream channelization. Pollution from industrial and urban development can also cause loss of habitat by lowering dissolved oxygen levels and increasing suspended solids and sediments in streams,” the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Red-cockaded woodpeckerPicoides borealis

Status: Endangered

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said the population of the red-cockaded woodpecker has declined by 99 percent since the time of European settlement due to habitat loss.

The red-cockaded woodpecker’s primary habitat is the longleaf pine ecosystem and it has been reduced to 3 percent of its original expanse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.


Southern hognose snake

Status: No longer faces extinction

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in Oct. 2019 that the southern hognose was no longer facing extinction. The southern hognose snake is a small, heavy-bodied snake that typically does not grow more than two feet in length.

Fire ants and feral hogs are among the continued threats to the snake.

“Additional factors that could affect the species include increased temperatures, decreased precipitation, increased severe weather events such as drought, flooding or storms, changes in wildfire frequency and intensity, lack of prescribed burns, sea-level rise, collection for the pet trade and disease,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

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