Candidate species or candidate are plant or animal species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries consider fit to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. These are species for which the FWS or (NOAA) Fisheries has enough information regarding their biological status and threats to propose them as threatened or endangered. Pursuant to 50 CFR 424.02, candidate means any species being considered by the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Commerce for listing as an endangered or a threatened species, but not yet the subject of a proposed rule.”
Candidate species are generally excluded from the listing because of higher priority listing activities. Candidate species do not get the legal protections of the Endangered Species Act. However, proactive conservation efforts for the candidate species may in some cases eliminate the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act. Candidate conservation agreements and candidate conservation agreement with assurances are examples of proactive conservation efforts to protect the candidate species.