Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Wolf, eagle proposed for delisting in Minnesota

By Tim
Spielman

Associate Editor

St. Paul — The state DNR is now accepting comments on a plan to
update the state’s endangered, threatened, and “special concern”
lists, a proposal that includes removing the gray wolf and bald
eagle from state listing.

Other notable proposals regarding the list, last revised in
1996, are adding the Canada lynx to the list of “special concern.”
Lynx previously weren’t listed. The American badger also would be
included on the special concern list. Trumpeter swans would see
their status changed from threatened to special concern, and the
peregrine falcon would be removed from state listing.

All told, the DNR draft proposal calls for 273 changes in
Minnesota’s list of endangered, threatened, and special concern
species, said Rich Baker, a DNR biologist.

“Right now, we have 439 species on the (endangered, threatened,
and special concern) lists,” Baker said. “Almost 200 of those are
in the endangered and threatened categories. The proposal would
increase the number (in those categories) to about 275.”

The DNR defines the three categories as:

  • endangered if the species is threatened with extinction
    throughout all or a significant portion of its range within
    Minnesota;
  • threatened if the species is likely to become endangered within
    the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of
    its range within Minnesota;
  • special concern if, although the species is not endangered or
    threatened, it is extremely uncommon in Minnesota, or has unique or
    highly specific habitat requirements and deserves careful
    monitoring of its status.

Both threatened and endangered species are protected under the
state’s Endangered Species Act.

The list first identifying species requiring special attention
surfaced in 1984; it was revised most recently in 1996.

Baker said the law requires the department to consider changes
every three years, but not to act on those changes.

“It’s a huge project to revise the list,” Baker said.

Most often, according to Baker, species typically have moved
from a lower category (special concern) up to threatened, to
endangered. A new species usually will begin in the special concern
category. Less frequently, but preferred, is a move off the listing
altogether, Baker said.

“In most cases, we have an idea what needs protection,” he said.
“But there are some cases where we’re responding to the discovery
of a species in the state.”

New information is one reason species are added to the state
list; habitat loss is the other big factor, Baker said.

During the past 10 years, the DNR says research and survey work
“has provided new information about where rare species are and
whether or not they are vulnerable to extinction.”

Listing can force changes to activities in certain areas. The
state law prohibits taking of a protected species, and in some
cases may impact activities that could result in the “take” of
threatened or endangered species.

“A person may not take, import, transport, or sell any portion
of an endangered or threatened species,” according to a DNR news
release. “However, these acts may be allowed by permit issued by
the DNR; plants on certain agricultural lands and plants destroyed
in consequence of certain agricultural practices are exempt; and
the accidental, unknowing destruction of designated plants is
exempt.”

The ginseng proposal, for example, likely would end harvest of
the plant, Baker said. “There’s evidence the species is not doing
well enough to allow collection,” he said. The DNR report also
states that the overpopulation of deer in some areas might be
affecting the plant. Ginseng is collected for commercial and
medicinal purposes.

Baker said he’s received a mix of public comments thus far
regarding the proposal.

The comment period is open now until March 5. The DNR then will
revise the draft, prepare supporting information, and submit the
final proposal for administrative rule making. That could be
followed by public meetings, and the proposed rule must be approved
by an administrative judge. Baker said the updated list could be
completed by the end of this year.

Details of the draft changes, along with an online comment form,
are available on the DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Printed
copies of the draft changes and comment form may be obtained by
contacting the DNR at (651) 259-5073, or by writing Rich Baker,
Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Rd., Box 25, St. Paul, MN 55155, or by
email at rich.baker@dnr.state.mn.us.

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