Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Minnesota’s troubled species lists are final

  • The beleaguered moose has ambled onto Minnesota’s growing lists of troubled species, while wolves, snapping turtles and eagles — doing better than in past decades — have soared off the lists entirely.
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  • The beleaguered moose has ambled onto Minnesota’s growing lists of troubled species, while wolves, snapping turtles and eagles — doing better than in past decades — have soared off the lists entirely.
    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday announced the final versions of newly revised lists of endangered species, threatened species and species of concern, the first major changes in 17 years.
    Moose are one of 66 animals, reptiles, fish, insects and mollusks added to the lists. The updated list also includes 114 native plants on the list for the first time that botanists say are declining.
    The DNR took public comments over the winter on its proposals and held a series of meetings across the state to take input on their proposals. A state Administrative Law Judge approved the revisions in April with no major changes from the DNR’s proposal.
    The moose, which has experienced a dramatically declining population, is listed as an official species of concern.
    The little brown myotis bat, now facing a devastating attack from white-nose syndrome fungus recently found in Minnesota bat caves, is being added to the list as a species of concern in advance of any major downturn, as is the big brown bat for the same reason.
    The lynx forest cat, already on the federal threatened species list in Minnesota, would make the state species of concern list for the first time, even though its population crashed here 30 years ago.
    The boreal owl would become a species of concern as would the northern goshawk, both birds of northern Minnesota’s older, more mature forests, while the loggerhead shrike and horned grebe would move from threatened to full-blown endangered status.
    The DNR begins state protection efforts with the designation of “species of concern” and then moves to “threatened” if the animal, insect or plant’s population faces serious issues, and finally to “endangered” if the species faces potential extirpation from the state.
    Combined, the three lists have bulged from 439 species of plants, mammals, insects and other critters to 591 species, an increase of more than one-third.
    But all the news isn’t bad.
    The DNR proposes to end state designation for 15 plants and 14 animals that are doing well and to upgrade others. The peregrine falcon and trumpeter swan both are being upgraded from threatened to species of concern.
    Some species have declined markedly since the last list was compiled, while others simply have been better studied, yielding more-accurate population estimates and leading to changes on the list. About two-thirds of all species on the list are seeing declining habitat.
    DNR officials have compared the lists to an emergency room at a hospital: Species go onto the list, they get special attention so they can get better and, it’s hoped, come off the list someday as they recover. They cite the wolf, peregrine falcon and bald eagle as signs of the list doing its job.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The ultimate goal of putting a plant or animal on the list isn’t to put up walls around it; it’s to restore its health and get it back off the list,” Rich Baker, DNR endangered species coordinator, said in Monday’s announcement. “There are plenty of examples of that happening, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of sustainable economic development.”
    The updated lists include not just big animals and little fish but also invertebrates, moss, fungi, mollusks and little-known insects like jumping spiders.
    It’s illegal to take or possess a state endangered or threatened species on the Minnesota list. Many but not all of the state-listed species also have protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.
    If a proposed development project — such as roads or buildings — cannot avoid damaging a protected species, the state can issue a “taking permit” that is combined with mitigation, such as funding for research or acquisition of other habitat to protect the same species. Over the past decade, the DNR has received 23 applications for development-related taking permits and approved all but one.
    Minnesota first passed an endangered species law in 1971, with revisions in 1974, 1981 and 1996.
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