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Top 5 Endangered Louisiana Species

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Endangered Species of Louisiana

Louisiana wildlife is iconic for its beauty, diversity and exotic qualities. While some regional species continue to thrive, others are in danger of disappearing. Naturalists have gone to great lengths to educate the public about the endangered species of Louisiana and how we can help to restore their populations. Here are five of the most endangered Louisiana species.  

Gulf Sturgeon

Endangered louisiana species gulf sturgeon
Source: fws.gov
The Gulf sturgeon, a sub-species of the Atlantic sturgeon, is found in estuaries and river systems between Southeastern Louisiana and Northern Florida. While they swim out to sea in their youth, they return to coastal waters to breed as adults. Gulf sturgeons are seasonal bottom feeders that eat crustaceans, worms, and mollusks. This vulnerable Louisiana species is threatened primarily by habitat degradation, as pollution and development have caused the contamination of many of their feeding grounds.  

West Indian Manatee

Endangered species of louisiana west indian manatee swimming in the water
Source: fws.gov

While West Indian manatees are most commonly associated with Florida, they are also found in Louisiana and other sections of the Gulf Coast. These massive mammals primarily live in freshwater rivers and estuaries, although they have the ability to travel through saltwater for extended periods. Manatees are nicknamed “sea cows” for their size and preferred diet of seagrass and other aquatic plants. Sadly, these majestic creatures are under threat due to habitat destruction, human-built infrastructure, collisions with boats and even poaching. 

Red Cockaded Woodpecker

Endangered species of louisiana red cockaded woodpecker
Source: nature.org
The red-cockaded woodpecker is named for a small patch of feathers that can be spotted behind the males’ eyes. These woodpeckers live in mature pine forests, where they chip away at the pines’ bark to feed on the insects that live underneath it. As pristine pine forests have become scarce due to logging and development, the red-cockaded woodpecker population has thus dwindled. Capacity numbers suggest that only around 10,000 remain in existence today, which is no doubt cause for concern but also a source of motivation for us to take proactive steps to ensure the preservation and sustainability of this species. 

Gopher Tortoise

Endangered species of louisiana gopher tortoise
Source: aces.edu
Gopher tortoises, who are residents of the coastal plains of the United States’ southeastern region, have earned their name for the intricately designed and well-constructed burrows they create to survive extreme temperatures. Their favorite foods are grass, legumes and fruits. Though conditions vary from one state to another, gopher tortoises are listed as an endangered species in Louisiana due to the disruption of habitats caused by agricultural and urban development. 

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

Endangered species of louisiana kemp's ridley sea turtle
Source: fisheries.noaa.gov

While endangered species often tell tragic tales, they can tell uplifting stories as well. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the smallest, and most endangered, sea turtle in the world. They feed primarily on crabs and small fish, but unfortunately their population has been severely threatened for decades due to commercial fishing bycatch. However, in 2022 there was a glimmer of hope when nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were found on the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana.

This discovery marked a victory for both coastal preservation efforts and endangered species in Louisiana, as it had been over 75 years since these turtles have been known to nest in local waters. This proved that with proper effort, restoration programs can be successful for these species and give hope for their longer-term survival.  

Swamp Tours New Orleans

Experience the wonders of Louisiana’s bayou firsthand with a New Orleans swamp tour from Cajun Encounters. Connect with nature in a unique way while learning all about the delicate relationship between the local plants, animals and their environment. On these tours, professional guides educate visitors about the relationships between local species and their environment. In addition, guests at this educational and eco-friendly swamp tour will learn about efforts to preserve and restore Louisiana’s beautiful wildlife. Increasing awareness of these efforts is critical to helping the endangered species of Louisiana. Book your New Orleans swamp tour with Cajun Encounters today! 

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