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9 Endangered Animals It's Still Legal to Hunt

Even their endangered status can't keep them safe.


When an animal is on the Endangered Species List, it usually means people are actively trying to keep that species alive. But there are actually some species that people are legally allowed to hunt, endangered status be damned.

Here are nine animals that are considered endangered but can still lose their lives to legal hunters.

1. FIN WHALES

endangered animals legal to hunt

Wikimedia Commons/Aqqa Rosing-Asvid

Being labeled as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature hasn't stopped whalers from going after their meat.

According to the Guardian, Iceland and Norway continue to commercially hunt whales in defiance of the worldwide moratorium. Iceland just authorized their hunters to kill even more fin whales than last year, with a quota of 161 compared to the 150 quota in 2017.

2. PUFFINS

endangered animals legal to hunt Giphy

The IUCN lists puffins as endangered, but Iceland continues to allow legal hunting of the water birds, according to Iceland Magazine. All someone needs is a permit.

3. SPINY DOGFISH

endangered animals legal to hunt

Wikimedia Commons/NOAA

Even though the IUCN listed this small shark as endangered, the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries department calls it a "smart seafood choice."

4. KILLER WHALES

endangered animals legal to hunt Giphy

Not all orcas are deemed endangered, but NatGeo reports that some pods are since each pod is unique to its location and some thrive more than others. St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean still permits orca whaling, according to Smithsonian, much to the outcry of tourists.

5. OLIVE RIDLEY SEA TURTLES

endangered animals legal to hunt

Wikimedia Commons/Thangaraj Kumaravel

Sea turtles are globally protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and some groups of breeding olive ridley turtles are considered endangered, per NOAA. The rest are considered threatened.

According to the Guardian, the Ostional Development Association in Costa Rica allows some families to gather a small number of olive ridley eggs for the first three mornings of a breeding season.

6. HAMMERHEAD SHARKS

endangered animals legal to hunt Giphy

The IUCN list recognizes hammerhead sharks as endangered. However, Belize allows legal fishing for these sharks by net or line, according to the San Pedro Sun.

7. POLAR BEARS

endangered animals legal to hunt Giphy

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, polar bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act. But the FWS also allows Alaska's indigenous people to hunt as many polar bears as they want, so long as it's not considered "wasteful." The hunters can use the polar bear for food or to create crafts or clothing.

8. SEA OTTERS

endangered animals legal to hunt Giphy

This IUCN-recognized endangered species is also available to Alaska's indigenous hunters as long as every otter killed can "reasonably be utilized," per the FWS.

9. BLUEFIN TUNA

endangered animals legal to hunt

Wikimedia Commons/Danilo Cedrone

These IUCN-listed endangered fish still make their way onto people's plates. NOAA even recently adjusted the limit of what you can catch per day to be higher, and you're legally allowed to fish them in U.S. waters.


These are just some of the endangered species people can legally kill. Every day, poachers illegally hunt threatened, endangered and even critically endangered species.

It's tough out there to be an endangered species — in more ways than one.

Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.

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