A variety of animals are found along the Hillsborough River, including alligators, river otters, gopher tortoises and turtles, blue crabs, and various species of frogs, toads, birds, and fish. The abundance of some of these animals is declining due to rapid loss of habitat, which sometimes results in some species being listed by the state of Florida as either endangered, threatened or as a "species of special concern". Examples of listed species are gopher tortoises, gopher frogs, eastern Indigo snakes, wood storks, bald eagles, and Florida scrub jays. At the same time, other species are thriving on human disturbance, such as raccoons and squirrels.
It is important to protect the variety of habitats along the Hillsborough River. Wild species of native plants and animals that live in and around the river and its habitats all rely on the same clean water, air, and other basic resources that humans do. In urbanized areas, environmental degradation may consist of changes in the natural water fluctuations of the wetlands, fragmentation or complete loss of important upland habitats, and negative effects resulting from introduced, or non-native, species. As these changes occur, certain plant and animal species may decline to the point of local extinction, such as some frogs and songbirds we have already lost. Frequently, those that decline are native species and those that thrive are introduced species.
Wildlife uses the same air and water we do. By watching what happens to them, we can get an idea of what might be happening to us. Maintaining healthy habitats helps all the species that live in the area - including humans.