North America’s Most Endangered Animals

Snails, marmots, condors and coral reef are among the many species on the continent that are close to extinction

Kemp's ridleys are the world's smallest sea turtles and are also the most endangered. (Erich Schlegel / International_NI / Corbis)

Pygmy Raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus)

Pygmy raccoon
(Roy Toft / Getty Images)
Pygmy raccoons can be a common sight among the mangroves on the northwest tip of Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. They live nowhere else in the world, however, and there are likely fewer than 250 mature animals. Their island home is being increasingly developed for tourism, and scientists worry that the raccoons’ habitat may become more fragmented by roads and that hotels and golf courses may use up the fresh water needed by the island’s animals. Feral cats and dogs are also a threat; they carry diseases and prey upon the raccoons. But the biggest danger may be one that humans have little control over—hurricanes. A major storm can wipe out as much as 60 percent of the raccoon population in one blow, according to a study of two hurricanes that swept through the area in 2005. – SZ

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