The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive source of information for animals’ global conservation.
The IUCN states, “A taxon is Near Threatened (NT) when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.”
There are 18 species of mammals in North America classed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
- Steller sea lion
- Mexican long-tongued bat
- False killer whale
- Florida mouse
- Island fox
- Indiana bat
- American bison
- Allegheny woodrat
- Appalachian Cottontail
- Desert pocket gopher
- Lesser long-nosed bat
- Banner-tailed kangaroo rat
- Washington ground squirrel
- Sonoma red vole
- Mohave ground squirrel
- Northern long-eared myotis
Please read on if you want to know more about these animals and why they are on the Near Threatened list.
Steller Sea Lion
The Steller sea lion is also known as the northern sea lion. They are a species of sea lion typically found in the north Pacific. They are considered the largest species of eared seals and take their names from the naturalist George Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in the mid-18th century.
These animals measure about 2.3 to 2.9 meters in length on average and weigh between 240 to 350 kilograms. Males are slightly longer than females and can be distinguished by broader foreheads and thicker hair around their necks.
The range of these seals extends from Russia to the Gulf of Alaska and the Ano Nuevo Island off Central California.
Steller sea lions usually live in the subarctic coastal waters and spend most of their time in the water. They are skilled and opportunistic marine predators. They primarily feed on a wide variety of fish and are hunted by killer whales and great white sharks.
The population trend of the steller sea lion is increasing with over 81000 individuals. Threats to the steller sea lion come from fishing and aquatic harvesting resources, which they feed on climate change, and severe weather, which causes their habitats to shift and alter.
Mexican Long-tongued Bat
The Mexican long-tongued bat is found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and parts of the United States. They are medium-sized bats with a body weight of approximately 10 to 20 grams and a body length of 13 centimeters.
Their pelage is characterized by long hairs, which are usually gray or brown. Their name comes from a long, extendible tongue specialized for nectar-feeding. The tongue can extend up to a third of its body length.
The Mexican long-tongued bat feeds on several plants’ nectar, pollen, and fruit. They are usually solitary and travel long distances during migration. The Mexican long-tongued bat is considered near threatened, although the population numbers are unknown.
This is due to territory encroachment from residential and commercial developments and livestock farming and ranching changes. Changes to their habitats have occurred due to mining and quarrying.
The Florida mouse can be found in the longleaf pine sandhills, slash pine-turkey oak sandhills, and central Florida sand pine scrub. They prefer to live in hot, dry areas of the state rather than the coastal marshes.
Florida mice resemble the cotton mouse and oldfield mouse, but the Florida mouse lives in the gopher tortoise’s burrows. The burrows of gopher tortoises construct deep, long burrows.
Over 360 species of vertebrates and invertebrates use these tunnels, and the Florida mouse is one of these. The Florida mouse uses these tunnels and constructs its own off the sides.
Although they spend their days in the tortoise tunnels, they come out at night to feed. They eat insects, plants, and seeds. They are particularly fond of acorns.
Florida mice’s population is decreasing due to the development of housing and urban areas, commercial and industrial areas.
Agriculture also contributes to their decline, destroying annual and perennial non-timber crops. Fires in their habitats have also caused reductions in the Florida mice population.
False Killer Whale
The false killer whale is a medium-sized mammal measuring 14-20 ft (4.3-6.1m) and weighing 1.2-2.5 tons. They are black or dark gray, with long bodies and conical heads. Their dorsal fin is towards the middle of their back and has flippers with an elbow shape.
They can be seen in groups of 10-60 animals interacting with other cetaceans, such as bottlenose dolphins. Due to their social structure, mass strandings can be common, with the largest involving over 1,000 animals.
False killer whales are classified as near threatened due to fishing, aquatic harvesting resources, and pollution. Industrial and military effluents cause pollution, along with garbage and solid waste.
In the article I wrote, I found out which mammals have gone extinct in North America in the last 100 years.
The Indiana myotis is a midsize, social bat species found in the eastern United States.
Their colors vary from dark brown to black. The Indiana bat measures from 4.1 to 4.9 cm and weighs about 7g.
The Indiana bat is an insectivore and eats flies, moths, bees, wasps, midges, ants, mosquitoes, and beetles. They live in wooded areas, where they can roost in trees.
During the winter, the Indiana bat hangs from ceilings clustered in groups to hibernate. Their lifespan is about 14 years, and they are considered endangered.
Although near-threatened, the population of the Indiana bat is stable at the moment. The construction of housing and urban areas has caused problems for the people, along with human intrusions and disturbances.
Red Tree Vole
The red tree vole spends most of its life on one tree, with the next generations living in parts of the same tree.
The red tree vole feeds exclusively on the needles of conifers. To eat the conifers’ seeds, they need to remove the resin ducts of the hand they use for nest lining. The amount of discarded shells might give away their position to predators.
They live in the states of Oregon and California. These animals are nocturnal and difficult to spot. Their average length is about 206 mm, and they can weigh up to 50 grams.
The population of the red tree vole is decreasing due to logging and wood harvesting.
Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat
The banner-tailed kangaroo rat usually measures up to 34 cm in length and weighs around 130 grams. These kangaroo rats are found in Mexico and the southwestern area of the United States.
These rats’ most distinguishable trait is their tail, which is black-banded with a white tip resembling a banner. The legs on the back are longer than those in the front, allowing it to be fast. The population of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat is decreasing.
The jaguar is a large-sized feline found in the southwestern regions of the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.
Jaguars are the largest native cat species in America and the third-largest in the world. They resemble leopards with their spotted coats, but jaguars are larger and sturdier. Jaguars weigh 56 to 96 kilograms and reach about 1.12 to 1.85 meters in body length.
They live in tropical and subtropical forests, swamps, and wooded regions. Jaguars are solitary and use stalk-and-ambush techniques. This makes them a predator located near the top of the food chain.
They play an important ecological role in controlling the population levels of their prey. Jaguars are carnivores and feed on various types and species of animals.
The population of jaguars in the wild is decreasing due to residential and commercial development, housing, and commercial and industrial construction.
Changes to livestock farming and ranching and annual and perennial non-timber crops being destroyed have also contributed to reducing their numbers. New roads and railroads, along with utility and service lines, have also caused problems for the jaguar.
The Island gray fox can be found off the Southern California coast on the Channel Islands. They can be found on the six largest Channel Islands. The Island gray fox can be found on Santa Cataline, San Clemente, San Miguel, San Nicholas, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa Islands.
The Island gray fox is smaller than the regular gray fox and the smallest fox in North America. They average between 59 to 79 cm long, including a tail length of up to 29 cm. Their height is just 15 cm.
Island gray foxes live solitary, nocturnal lives. They can also be seen during the day. They are good tree climbers. Island gray foxes will leave urine and feces at boundaries around their territories to mark their parts from other gray foxes.
They feed mainly on fruits and insects, living on an omnivorous diet. They will also feed on birds, deer, mice, reptiles, snails, and human garbage. They will eat prickly pear cacti, sea figs, manzanita, and berries.
The IUCN lists all subspecies of island gray Fox as near threatened. By 2000, there was a population of just 14 Island gray foxes on Santa Rosa, down from 1,500 in 1994. Today there are just over 4,000 in the wild.
Threats to their population come from golden eagles, which can be four times their size.
The United States Navy has also affected its population by trapping and euthanizing foxes, although, since 2000, they have employed different strategies.
The Appalachian cottontail is a rabbit found in the eastern regions of the United States. They are small-sized rabbits weighing around 756 grams to 1153 grams and measuring 408 mm in length on average.
The Appalachian cottontails have light-yellow-brown fur and brown and red neck patches. These rabbits adapt well to colder climates and are usually active at dusk and dawn. They hide in caves or logs during the day to escape and avoid predators.
The Appalachian cottontail can be found in mountainous areas between 610 to 770 meters of elevation. They have excellent senses with heightened smell, hearing, and sight.
The Appalachian cottontail population is decreasing due to the construction of housing and urban areas and increased tourism to their habitats.
Desert Pocket Gopher
The Desert pocket gopher usually measures 18 to 36 centimeters and reaches 120-250 grams. This rodent has darker fur than other gophers and mostly lives in the Upper Rio Grande area.
They prefer to live in areas that are easier to dig into, building underground tunnels and caves. They can change the soils of their habitats in more ways than other gophers. Their population has decreased due to livestock farming, ranching, fires, and droughts.
The American bison is a large species of mammal from North America. They are also commonly called the American buffalo, although this is incorrect. Their color is dark brown and gets darker in summer and lighter in winter. They measure from 2 to 2.8 m and weigh from 318 to 1,000 kg.
The bison is a herbivore and eats grasses and sedges. They live in river valleys, grasslands, semi-arid lands, prairies, and plains. Their lifespan is 15 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity. They are no longer classed as an endangered species. Bison are still recovering from the mass slaughter at the end of the 1800s and into the 1900s.
Mohave Ground Squirrel
The Mohave ground squirrel spends half of the year underground in a state of inertia. They emerge for the new green vegetation after missing the winter temperature and the summer droughts.
The Mohave ground squirrel is active during the day, even in hot conditions but will forage in the shade. They live in burrows underneath bushes or along washes. They ensure that no other animals can get into the caves at night by plugging up the door with soil.
They are pale brown with a light pinkish-brown on their forehead and feet. They grow up to 23 cm in length, including a tail of 7 cm. They can weigh up to 300 grams.
The Mohave ground squirrel population is decreasing due to human intrusions on their habitats and new houses and urban areas being built.
The Allegheny woodrat is a nocturnal rodent from the eastern part of the United States. Their color is mostly brownish-gray, and the underbody and feet are white.
The Allegheny woodrat measures 31 to 45 cm (including the tail) and weighs about 450 g. This herbivore eats buds, fruits, seeds, leaves, stems, roots, acorns, nuts, and checks.
In deciduous forests, the Allegheny woodrat lives in rocky areas (cliffs and caves). Their lifespan is three years in the wild. The Allegheny woodrat is becoming an endangered species. They are very destructive and carry many diseases.
The population of the Allegheny woodrat is decreasing. This decrease is due to residential and commercial development, mining, and quarrying. Roads and railroads have also had an impact on their population.
Lesser Long-nosed Bat
The Lesser long-nosed bat is a medium-sized bat found in North America and Central America. Their total body length is around 8 centimeters, and they usually weigh between 15 and 25 grams.
Their name derives from the long and narrow snout, which terminates in a small nose leaf. The lesser long-nosed bat has no visible tail. They commonly live in semi-arid grasslands or forests with altitudes below 550 meters above sea level.
They can tolerate exceptionally high temperatures but can die at temperatures below 10C. During migration in the summer, they may reach some areas of California and Arizona in the United States. These bats feed on nectar or saguaro, some cacti, and agaves.
The population of the lesser long-nosed bat is decreasing due to changes in mining in their habitats.
Sonoma Tree Vole
The Sonoma tree vole can be found in northwestern California and south through Sonoma county. They can be found around forests, gulches, meadows, and fields. They have reddish-gray fur with black tips. They have a white belly and a black tail with reddish hair.
They eat the bark of young coniferous trees and needles and strip the fir needles to eat only the outside. They exist primarily on fir needles and eat up to 2,400 hands a day.
They use the debris from the needles to construct their nest. Their nests have a central and small chamber, which they use for excretion.
Females grow larger than males, up to 19cm long, and weigh 47 kg. The population of the Sonoma tree vole is decreasing. New residential and commercial developments, logging, and wood harvesting have affected their population.
Washington Ground Squirrel
The Washington ground squirrel can be found in the Columbia Basin of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. They prefer sandy soils that are well-drained and have plenty of grass. They are diurnal and feed on grasses, forms, bulbs, seeds, flowers, and insects.
They can be found around the Blue and Ochoco Mountains and the Columbia River. The Washington ground squirrel has a brownish-gray body and is distinct from other species in the area due to white spots on its fur. The sites can be as big as 4mm wide.
They grow to a total length of 25 cm with a weight of up to 300 grams. The Washington ground squirrel population is decreasing due to hunting and trapping, along with changes in agriculture.
You may have heard a squirrel but not realized it. Find out what sounds they make here.
Northern Long-eared Myotis
The Northern long-eared myotis is a species of bat. They use echolocation to navigate while flying. Their color varies from yellowish-light brown to black, and they measure about 8.6 cm and weigh from 5 to 8 g.
This insectivore eats mostly moths, beetles, flies, and leafhoppers. They live in boreal forests (taiga) in the eastern, central part of North America. Their lifespan is about 18.5 years. They are an endangered species due to a sickness that is killing their species.
The Northern long-eared myotis population is decreasing due to logging, wood harvesting, and human recreation activities in their habitat.
We have to do all we can to save these animals. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. As you can see from this article and on the IUCN website, most of these populations are decreasing.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.