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The State of Virginia has a massive forest cover of approximately 65%, which makes it extremely conducive for the growth of flora and fauna. The diversity of species that are indigenous to the state is extremely fascinating. Due to favorable temperate conditions and the varied ecosystems, the state has been rich in bio-diversity. However, due to changes in the climatic conditions that have resulted in the warming of this region, several species have been endangered. Apart from climate change, habitat fragmentation, hunting habits and invasive species have pushed the wildlife and the aquatic life to the brink of extinction.

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Some important native species have been endangered in Virginia, and conservation processes must continue in full swing.

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia Mydas)

These turtles found in fairly shallow waters, have heart-shaped shells and are generally light coloured. In Virginia they are commonly found in the Chesapeake Bay during the late summer. While feeding on sea grass, they cause the blades on the grass to be chopped, which keeps it healthy. The most glaring cause for their diminution is ‘Stranding’. This occurs due to various man-made triggers such as ingestion of naval wreckage, fishing gear, etc. Fortunately, The State of Virginia and The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have launched massive campaigns to spread awareness regarding the conservation of these sea turtles.

Shenandoah Salamander (Plethodon Shenandoah)

This small amphibian is endemic to the State of Virginia, and found inside the Shenandoah National Park. Primarily nocturnal beings, these salamanders spend their days under or inside crevices of rocks and other objects. Usually found in the steep north facing talus slopes, these creatures have been staple in the endangered list since 1987. Several natural causes like restricted range size, defoliation of trees by gypsy moth, competition with redbacked salamanders were originally believed to be the reason for their endangerment. However, in recent times it has been found that human-related factors may have aided in intensifying this threat.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides Borealis)

This endangered woodpecker, once a common sight in the southeast vast expanses has disappeared from about 97% of its habitat, making it a highly endangered species. They have a unique breeding method called “co-operative breeding”. Due to this very distinctiveness, it is extremely excruciating to carry out conservation processes that fosters nesting.

However, recent efforts by various conservation organisations that have partnered together within Virginia, are indicative of signs of recovery.

Yellowfin Madtom (Noturus Flavipinnis)

This small sized catfish is native to Virginia occurring in main-stem Powell River, the Clinch River and its tributary, Copper Creek. Major threats to this species are mainly human-made, ranging from mining and pollution to oil spills. An extremely peculiar fact about this catfish is that it was thought to be extinct for over 100 years! However, recently they have been reintroduced by conservation fisheries in an attempt to maintain their nativity to Virginia.

Funds have been raised to improve the quality of the waters by preventing runoff, oil spills and any other contaminants from entering where these fishes have been reinstated.