The Kansas Wildlife Refuge

This part of the Great Plains Nature Center website
is adapted from the booklet
"A Pocket Guide to Kansas
Threatened and Endangered Species".

Use the links below or click on the navigation graphic to find out more about these interesting and unique creatures!

Click here to download a pdf version! The Second Edition of the Pocket Guide to Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species is available as a pdf download. Species accounts within the Kansas Wildlife Refuge will be revised with the updated information when time permits

bulletWhy are some species rare?
bulletHow are rare species protected?
bulletWhy should we protect them?
bulletWhich species are on
the Kansas T&E list?

Background on the Booklet


Why are some species rare? There are over 20,000 species of nongame wildlife in Kansas. Using survey and research information to track the occurrence, trends and range decline, about 60 species are deemed rare enough to be listed as threatened or endangered. Some species, such as the cave salamander, are rare due to their specialized adaptations to unique habitats. Big river chubs (large minnows) have become rare due to changes brought about by humans. Species like the green frog are on the periphery of their range and rare in Kansas but more plentiful in neighboring states.

As we increasingly alter the landscape, generalist species like raccoons and crows, which are well adapted to humans, tend to increase in numbers. Meanwhile, specialist species like salamanders and bats become fewer and more disconnected. These isolated populations are more vulnerable to local extinction by natural events such as droughts, floods, hailstorms and human-caused factors such as pollution, habitat changes and exotic species introductions. The listing of a species as threatened or endangered is an attempt to ensure rare species continue to be a functioning component of the ecosystem.

How are rare species protected?  Rare species protection was implemented with the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Act of 1975. This act provided the state authority to define and list endangered and threatened species. Endangered species are any species of wildlife whose continued existence as a viable component of the state's wild fauna is determined to be in jeopardy. Threatened species are any species of wildlife that appear likely, within the foreseeable future, to become an endangered species. These designations protect the animal from commercial or personal possession. The law also gives authority to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism to review projects requiring a state or federal permit or those funded by tax revenues. This process is designed to safeguard listed wildlife. Some species, including rare plants, are also U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed and protected by federal law, the Endangered Species Act of 1973. With the exception of plants, for which the state grants no protective status, the same species listed under the federal Act are also listed under state law.

Why should we protect them? There are a variety of reasons, ranging from spiritual to utilitarian, that people value rare wildlife. The federal Endangered Species Act recognizes that “endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of aesthetic, ecological, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people.” All these species play a role in the proper functioning of the food web. Some are excellent indicators of environmental health. For instance, most of the freshwater mussels are barometers of water quality because they are immobile filter feeders that cannot escape pollution, require specific fish hosts for their larvae (glochidia) and live for several decades.

Simply knowing rare wildlife will continue to exist as part of our natural heritage is enough for many people to support their conservation. Research conducted by Kansas State University found that over 95 percent of Kansans surveyed support listing of rare species.

Recovery plans continue to be developed for listed species. The objectives of these plans are to guide research and management aimed at enhancing the listed species' population. The ultimate goal is to be able to remove the species from their threatened or endangered status.

Nomenclature in the Pocket Guide to Kansas Threatened & Endangered Species follows that used by NatureServe ( an international source of status information for animal and plant species.

Which species are on the
Kansas Threatened & Endangered (T&E) list?

The following species are listed as being either threatened or endangered in Kansas as of August 2009.


bulletRunning Buffalo Clover
bulletMead's Milkweed
bulletWestern Prairie Fringed Orchid
bulletAmerican Burying Beetle
bulletScott Optioservus
Riffle Beetle
bulletFlat Floater
bulletRock Pocketbook
bulletOuachita Kidneyshell
bulletWestern Fanshell
bulletNeosho Mucket
bulletDelta Hydrobe Snail
bulletSlender Walker Snail
bulletSharp Hornsnail
bulletChestnut Lamprey
bulletPallid Sturgeon
bulletArkansas River Speckled Chub
bulletPlains Minnow
bulletWestern Silvery Minnow
bulletSturgeon Chub
bulletSicklefin Chub
bulletSilver Chub
bulletRedspot Chub
bulletHornyhead Chub
bulletShoal Chub
bulletArkansas River Shiner
bulletSilverband Shiner
bulletTopeka Shiner
bulletFlathead Chub
bulletNeosho Madtom
bulletArkansas Darter
bulletBlackside Darter
bulletEastern Newt
bulletLongtail Salamander
bulletCave Salamander
bulletMany-ribbed Salamander
bulletGrotto Salamander
bulletGreen Toad
bulletSpring Peeper
bulletStrecker's Chorus Frog
bulletGreen Frog
bulletEastern Narrowmouth Toad
bulletCommon Map Turtle
bulletBroadhead Skink
bulletTexas Blind Snake
bulletLongnose Snake
bulletRedbelly Snake
bulletCheckered Garter Snake
bulletSmooth Earth Snake
bulletWhooping Crane
bulletSnowy Plover
bulletPiping Plover
bulletEskimo Curlew
bulletLeast Tern
bulletBlack-capped Vireo
bulletGray Myotis
bulletBlack-footed Ferret
bulletEastern Spotted Skunk

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Kansas Wildlife Refuge
Text: Ed Miller and Bob Gress
Range Maps and Web Design: Jim Mason

Questions or comments?  Send Email to Jim Mason Spidey
Or write us at: 
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200             Call:  316-683-5499            Fax:  316-688-9555