Sadly, our planet is rapidly losing many iconic and valuable species. Find out the most endangered species living right here in Virginia.

Biodiversity is one of the hallmarks of our natural world. We have so many beautiful, unusual, and powerful creatures who each have a role to serve in helping our environment. Sadly, many of these species are becoming threatened, endangered, or even extinct. A report by 24/7 Wall St examined the two most endangered species in each state.

There are currently over 20,000 species whose populations are at risk. Many scientists describe the current state of our planet as a “sixth extinction.” There have previously been five mass extinctions on our planet, and our current sixth extinction is predicted to be the most devastating one yet. One study analyzed the population declines of over 27,000 species and found extremely high rates of population declines even for species of low concern. The study described our current state as a “biological annihilation.”

In the United States, we have the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to help protect imperiled species. Animals listed in this act receive certain protections to help their populations rebound and protect their habitats.

24/7 Wall St compiled a list of the most at-risk animals in every state to see how to best help endangered species in the United States. To help them in their research, they reviewed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of endangered species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, and other sources.

Coming up with exact numbers of endangered species can be difficult. 24/7 Wall St says, “Exact counts of each state’s endangered animal populations were not available. So we chose as examples for each state two critically endangered species. We focused on species with habitats unique to the state.”

The two most endangered species in Virginia are the Shenandoah Salamander and the Virginia Fringed Mountain Snail. According to the National Park Service, the Shenandoah Salamander is an endangered species that lives only in the Shenandoah National Park. The small animal is actually lungless and breathes through its skin.

Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service & Brian Gratwicke

According to US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Fringed Mountain Snail was found in 1947 from empty shells found in the soil. The snail was believed to be extinct until live individuals were found in 1971. The snail is only known to live along the New River in Pulaski County, Virginia.

While the Shenandoah Salamander and the Virginia Fringed Mountain Snail may not be the most charismatic species in the world, it is important that we preserve all biological diversity -- whether it’s the majestic African elephants or a small salamander that lives in Virginia.

What do you think? Did you know about these endangered species? Let us know in the comments below!

People are quickly abandoning Hampton Roads. But why?