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State Endangered and Threatened Species List revisions take effect

MADISON -Fifteen native birds, plants and other animals have been removed from Wisconsin’s endangered and threatened species list effective Jan. 1, 2014. Some have rebounded as a result of protections and management efforts to increase their populations, while others were found to be more numerous than originally thought after targeted survey efforts.

Eight other species, including the black tern, the federally endangered Kirtland’s warbler, and the upland sandpiper, have been added to the list because they are considered to be in jeopardy now or in the near future. Five invertebrates — the beach-dune tiger beetle, ottoe skipper, a leafhopper, an Issid planthopper, and fawnsfoot mussel, were added as well to the list.

“This revised list recognizes our success in working with citizens to restore some rare species and gives others the protections and management focus they need to survive and be part of the natural heritage we leave for our children and grandchildren to enjoy,” says Erin Crain, who leads the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau.

Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Law protects listed species by making it illegal for people to kill, transport, possess, process or sell species on the Endangered and Threatened Species list. The list also helps focus state efforts and funding to protect and enhance habitats that benefit listed species and other rare species, says Terrell Hyde, the conservation biologist who coordinated the review process.

Public and private projects that potentially disturb habitat harboring endangered and threatened species are reviewed by DNR natural heritage conservation staff to provide recommendations for land managers to follow to avoid killing the species and to expand habitat, Hyde says.

The 15 species removed from the list include seven animals: the greater redhorse, a fish; the barn owl, snowy egret, and Bewick’s wren; the pygmy snaketail, a dragonfly; and two reptiles, the Blanding’s turtle and Butler’s gartersnake.

While the Blanding’s turtle no longer meets the scientific criteria for listing as Threatened, the population is vulnerable to harvest and collection, Hyde says. To address this, DNR recently started a new administrative rule process (ER-30-13) to add the Blanding’s turtle to the protected wild animals list and on rules impacting possession limits.

Other species removed from the list are eight plants: the American fever-few, bog bluegrass, Canada horse-balm, drooping sedge, prairie Indian-plantain, snowy campion, yellow gentian, and yellow giant hyssop. These species were removed for one or more of the following reasons: determination that populations are stable or increasing; new information about the populations; a positive response to protection and management efforts; and/or determination the plant no longer exists in Wisconsin, Hyde says.

Prompted by public comment, one species originally proposed for delisting, the Hemlock parsley, a plant considered extirpated, was kept on the list until a thorough survey of recently discovered potential habitat is made, Hyde says.

Wisconsin has been a leader in protecting and restoring endangered species, and in fact passed the nation’s first endangered species law in 1972, preceding the federal law. Among those endangered species whose populations have recovered in Wisconsin to the degree they have been removed from the list include bald eagles, which were removed from the list in 1997, and trumpeter swans in 2009. Learn more about these successes, and view videos, interactive timelines and more multimedia in DNR’s 2012 web feature series on the 40th anniversary of Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Law, or search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords “ET List.”