Policy Update

Maryland Expands Protections for its Endangered Species

May 15, 2024



NCEL Point of Contact

Justin Gulino
Conservation Associate


On April 9,  Maryland’s HB 0345 / SB 0916 became law. With unanimous passage in both chambers, this bill significantly strengthens Maryland’s Nongame & Endangered Species Conservation Act, the state’s complement to the federal Endangered Species Act. HB 0345 / SB 0916 makes Maryland’s state endangered species laws one of the strongest in the country. 

  • Why it Matters: The Fish & Wildlife Service delisted twenty-one species from the federal Endangered Species List as they are now considered extinct. In many cases, federal protections come too late for species. States are poised to offer urgent support to species in need, often have more streamlined listing processes, and better know the state-specific protective measures needed. Listing species through state action can often prevent the need for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Preventing federal listing can also save states much-needed funds.

Key Provisions

  • The bill expands the definition of “fish” and “wildlife.” Wildlife and fish now cover invertebrates, a species group absent in many states’ endangered species laws, but critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems. 
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources must review its threatened and endangered species list and consider new species for listing at least once every five years. 
  • Citizens are authorized to file petitions requesting the listing of a species as threatened or endangered. Only three other states have such provisions (Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Texas). Allowing citizens to file petitions adds monitoring capacity to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, expediting the listing process for species.

Other State Action

Nearly all states have an endangered species law, yet these vary in terms of their strength and ability to protect threatened and endangered species. This year, 14 states are seeking to strengthen their legislation. 

  • Colorado’s legislation seeks to include invertebrates and plants in their endangered species list. 
  • New Hampshire would have their definition of “critical habitat” conform to federal standards.
  • Minnesota is seeking to create a “threatened” category for species protection.

Read more about your state’s law in NCEL’s report on all states’ endangered species legislation.

Bill Sponsors

This bill was sponsored by Del. Julie Palakovich Carr and Sen. Benjamin Brooks.