Critically endangered...alien invaders?!?  We are not talking about critters across the world or aliens from Mars...we are talking about the plants, animals, and insects found in natural areas near you!

photo of ornate box turtle
Hine's emerald dragonfly resting on a plant stem

Endangered species are animals, plants or other life forms facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

greater prairie chicken with bright orange air sacs inflated

A threatened species is an official designation for a species that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

illustration of a lake sturgeon by Virgil Beck

Species of special concern are species for whom some issue is suspected, either in abundance or distribution, but not yet proven. It’s main purpose is to bring attention to species of concern before they become threatened or endangered

photo of a pile of zebra mussels

The aliens have landed in Wisconsin! You may see them and not even know they are aliens. These invaders are actually exotic plants and animals that have been introduced to our state from other countries or habitats on purpose or by accident. They can cause all kinds of problems for plants and animals that have always lived in our state. Read these stories and find out how to pick aliens out of a crowd, learn how to identify impostors, and how to help exterminate these alien invaders before they take over!

Sunset over River

Common species are those that exist in large numbers. Locally common species are common in a specific area or defined range.

Forest with River

Species that currently exist in large numbers but whose numbers are decreasing significantly.

River in Forest

Common species are those that exist in large numbers. A species may be locally abundant, but not broadly common.

Summer Sunny Meadow

A species is considered “abundant” when it frequently appears in sampling. A species may be locally abundant without being common widely.

Fishing Pier on River

Animals that are designated as protected, meaning no person may take, attempt to take, transport or possess any protected wild animal unless authorized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Gypsy moth caterpillar
The gypsy moth (caterpillar) is a serious defoliator of trees and shrubs in North America.
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Gypsy moth
When Gypsy moths have an "outbreak," the caterpillars defoliate trees (eat all the leaves).
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Spiny Water Flea
Spiny water fleas eat zooplankton and compete directly with small fish that also need to eat it.
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a huge pile of zebra mussel shells
These invasive critters remove incredible amounts of food from the water.
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Blanchard's cricket frog in the mud
Learn more about the Blanchard's Cricket Frog.
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Bobolink
This colorful bird is well suited to life in the prairie. Its tan, black and white markings hide it well in the yellow-tan grasses.
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Lynx
You'll probably never see a lynx in the wild. They are uncommon in Wisconsin and pretty secretive.
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Eastern Ribbonsnake
This gartersnake resembles other gartersnakes at first glance.
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Emerald Ash Borer on leaf
Once these invaders get into a tree, the tree always dies.
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Gray (black) Ratsnake
When looking for snakes, you might not think to look up.
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Greater Prairie Chicken in a field
Other names for this bird include pinneated grouse, prairie hen, and old yellowlegs.
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Karner Blue Butterfly on leaf
Beauty and grace best describe this federally endangered species.
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Karner blue butterfly on a leaf
The karner blue butterfly life history.
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Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
The multicolored Asian lady beetles look like common "ladybugs."
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The Flying Squirrel
It's small, furry, and "flies" from tree to tree.
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Ornate Box Turtle
The ornate box turtle is an endangered species in Wisconsin.
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Peregrine Falcon
Faster Than A Speeding Bullet?
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Pickerel Frog
Learn more about the Pickerel Frog.
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Pine Marten in tree
The pine marten is nocturnal and we don't know much about them.
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Queensnake
This beautiful snake calls water home.
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Round Goby
This invader is a bottom dwelling fish with a large head, resembling a tadpole.
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Slender Glass Lizard
The name for this lizard is appropriate. When it's caught sometimes its tail breaks into many pieces like glass.
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Knapweed close-up in field
Spotted knapweed secretes chemicals into the soil that kill surrounding plants.
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Wolf pack
Have you ever heard a wolf howl in the wild? Not many people have.
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Western Ribbonsnake
There are less than a half dozen records of this endangered snake being seen in Wisconsin.
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Whooping Crane
2006 marked the first year that whooping cranes hatched in the wild in the Midwest in over 100 years!
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Wild Parsnip in field
Scientific name: Pastinaca sativa
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Wood Turtle
This medium-sized turtle is most easily recognized by its shell.
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