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26 Endangered Species in Michigan

Melanie was raised in Michigan and has been living in the Midwest ever since. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.

Piping plover (background) is one of Michigan's endangered species.

Piping plover (background) is one of Michigan's endangered species.

Chances are you that you know a little bit about various endangered species. And, of course, you’re familiar with pandas, tigers, and sea turtles. What you might not know is that there are endangered species living in every US State! Each individual state has a number of species that are slowly dying out in their region.

If you want to help endangered species, you can really make a huge impression right in your own backyard.

If you live in Michigan, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a list of a few endangered species that live right here in Michigan (and a little bit of info about each one.) After learning about each plant and animal, you can get a start on working out a solution for the species that live in your area.

The shoreline of the Great Lakes provides a home to Pitcher’s thistle

The shoreline of the Great Lakes provides a home to Pitcher’s thistle

Canada Lynx

The Canada lynx is on the “threatened list.” This small breed of wild cat has silverish brown fur, sometimes with black highlights and is said to resemble a bobcat. While located mostly in Canada, they are known to make forays into some of the more northern states, such as Michigan and Washington. Their numbers have dwindled due to trapping for their fur, which is thick and warm.

These timid cats mostly feed on small animals and, like most cats, are primarily nocturnal. That said, there have been daytime sightings of these beautiful cats.

Canada Lynx kittens

Canada Lynx kittens

Piping Plover

This bird is mostly found along the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior and the Atlantic coastline. Because these little birds will lay eggs in the sandy beach environments, their nesting places are being destroyed by many a beach-goer.

Conservation efforts have helped to improve the number of nesting pairs and the range in which sightings of piping plovers have been confirmed. Some beaches have been permanently set aside just for the plovers and are off-limits to humans.

Pitcher's Thistle

This plant, also known as ‘dune thistle, grows exclusively along the shoreline of Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron. Before it flowers, it usually resembles a cluster of silvery leaves. Its flowering form is a stem with several branches with cream or pink-colored flowers at the end of the branches and leaf axils.

The leaves have spines near the base and at the tips of the lobes. Real estate development in these areas is causing the destruction of these plants and their natural environments.

The range of the Indiana bat population.

The range of the Indiana bat population.

Indiana Bat

Like many bats, the Indiana bat tends to gather in trees, caves, barns, and other readily available protected places.

These bats live in large colonies, sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands. While these colonies seem kind of large for an endangered species, it’s important to note that the Indiana bat population has declined by a whopping 50% in just the past decade.

With over half of the population of Indiana bats living in the state of Indiana, it’s easy to guess where they got their name. Other colonies exist throughout southern Michigan and in many eastern US states.

You can help these bats by building a bat house. They’ll pay you back for helping them! Bats eat a ton of insects, so they’re a great defense against mosquitoes!

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly

This butterfly has a 1 3/4″ wingspan and a rich brown color with orange-rimmed black circular "eye" spots on the wings.

These butterflies often favor wetlands called fens, where nutrients are scarce and mostly supplied by carbonate-rich groundwater from seeps and springs. The caterpillars feed on grass-like plants called sedges. It is unknown what the adults feed on.

Copperbelly water snake

Copperbelly water snake

Copperbelly Water Snake

This snake has a dark-colored back and a bright orange-red underbelly. They favor low-lying swamps and other calm bodies of water. They hibernate over the winter in upland woods.

There are a number of reasons owing to their decline, such as loss of habitat and collection. Due to their rarity and lovely coloring, they are often picked up by collectors.

Hungerford’s Crawling Water Beetle

Nearly all of the little bugs known as Hungerford’s Crawling Water Beetles live in one singular location, the eastern branch of the Maple River in Michigan. These little bugs are the most endangered species in Michigan and hold the distinction of being the only endangered species specifically limited to Michigan.

These tiny little bugs are characterized by the irregular dark markings on their otherwise yellow-brown bodies. They also have large coxal plates on their hind legs, a feature distinct to them. Though they have wings, there has not yet been a recorded flight from one of these tiny creatures.

The gray wolf is one of Michigan's endangered species and calls the Upper Peninsula its home.

The gray wolf is one of Michigan's endangered species and calls the Upper Peninsula its home.

Gray Wolf

Perhaps one of the most well-known endangered species is that of the Gray or timber wolf. Despite the celebrity status of these wolves, their numbers continue to decline.

In some areas, they are seen as a menace, hunting small livestock and generally causing distress. For this reason, they are often hunted.

Gray wolves are often larger and heavier than their coyote cousins and, despite the name, are not exclusively gray. They can range in color from black all the way to white. They have dense, coarse, fluffy fur and tend to get even fluffier in winter months.

In many places, the wolves have begun to repopulate, though there are legal hunting dates in some places. There is almost always a bag limit for gray wolves in order to maintain control of the population.

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Full List of Michigan's Endangered & Threatened Species

American hart's tongue fern
Canada lynx
Copperbelly water snake
Dwarf lake iris
Eastern massasauga
Eastern prairie fringed orchid
Gray Wolf
Hine's emerald dragonfly
Houghton's goldenrod
Hungerford's crawling water beetle
Indiana bat
Karner blue butterfly
Kirtland's warbler
Lakeside daisy
Michigan monkey-flower
Mitchell's satyr butterfly
Northern long-eared bat
Northern riffleshell
Piping plover
Pitcher's thistle
Poweshiek Skipperling
Rayed Bean
Rufa Red knot
Small whorled pogonia

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Melanie Palen


Chad Young from Corona, CA on December 30, 2014:

I never thought of the plants that grow in our yard as an endangered species. I will start paying more attention before pulling them out. I'm sure most are just like me and are not sure how to identify them. Great hub!

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 26, 2014:

I live in Michigan and will help as I can.

AudraLeigh on March 21, 2013:

Micah has been to Michigan, but I have not. Interesting to read your hub on many endangered species. I live 15 minutes from Lake Ontario. Now I would like to find similar info here. Like the pics you sed, especially the Pitcher's thistle. Very good and informative hub!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 28, 2013:

Michigan is known more for its water based tourism, universities, car manufacturing plants of the big 3, ethnic food in the suburbs of Detroit, rather than its wildlife. You did a great job by addressing endangered wildlife residing in your state and giving some recommendations on how to help conserve its natural resources at the end.

Voted up.

whowas on October 22, 2012:

Hi melbel,

That is a wonderful and very important article. You are very right to point out that many people are aware of the 'keystone' endangered species while remaining sadly ignorant of the creatures on their doorstep. And of course, while we should all support the campaigns for those better known endangered animals, there is much more that we can practically do to help our local wildlife. Simple things such as leaving a corner of your garden wild, putting in a pond or feeding the birds can make a huge difference.

An excellent hub - thank you!

William Young from Eaglle Grove, Iowa on September 20, 2012:

That was fascinating! I've never seen Lynx kittens before, those are cute little fellas!

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