Species Recovery

Recovery is the process used to restore endangered and threatened species to the point that protection under the Endangered Species Act is no longer needed.

Steps We Take

First, we prepare recovery outlines and recovery plans for listed species. This is the planning portion of the recovery process. A recovery outline is the foundation for a Recovery Plan. Recovery Plans identify and prioritize actions necessary to conserve the subject species. Recovery Plans also provide information about the species life history, habitat requirements, and threats.

What We Do

Carry out the actions identified in Recovery Plans. We and many partners collaborate to carry out the actions identified in Recovery Plans.


Conduct status assessments, such as 5 Year List Reviews in conjunction with the ESPB, to monitor the population health of species and threats to their existence.

Species Status Change

The IDNR works with the ESPB to reclassify species from endangered to threatened as a species population health improves or reclassify from threatened to endangered as a species population health declines or threats increase. We delist species (i.e., remove from the list of threatened and endangered species) when their status improves to the point of recovery. Recovery is measured not only by population health but also by the assurance that threats are addressed.


After a species has recovered and is delisted, we continue to monitor that species to ensure its lasting stability.

 The Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR/Department) work together on endangered and threatened species recovery planning and while the ESPB may assist, the IDNR is the lead agency responsible for implementing recovery actions.

It is the ESPB's authority to determine whether, based on scientific evidence, animal and plant species are Illinois endangered or threatened. The ESPB is required to review and revise the Illinois List of Endangered and Threatened Species (Illinois List) as warranted, but no less often than every five years. Relative to this authority and duty, Illinois Endangered and Threatened Species Recovery Plans (Illinois E&T Recovery Plans) require ESPB approval. Other parties may elect to develop recovery plans without ESPB approval; however, in conducting any of its business, the ESPB may not consider described recovery activities and status review measures contained in plans other than those approved by the ESPB. 

The following process and form are intended to provide a standardized, transparent, and equally open access for anyone to request ESPB approval of an Illinois E&T Recovery Plan:

ESPB process and form for requesting approval of an Illinois Endangered or Threatened Species Recovery Plan

Reference documents cited in the process and form:

ESPB Endangered and Threatened Animal Translocation Policy 

Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, ESPB, and IDNR Plant Translocation and Restoration Policy