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DNR moves to formalize changes to Threatened, Endangered and Special Concern lists

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is moving to formalize proposed changes to the list of endangered, threatened and concerned species which was last updated in 1996. A media release was sent out today:

Twenty-nine species, including the bald eagle, wolf and snapping turtle, were removed from the list; 180 species of plants and animals were added; 91 species had their status either upgraded or downgraded while remaining on the list. The changes were based on large amounts of new information gathered by DNR and other researchers.

The “bald eagle, wolf, and snapping turtle” reads like a “who’s who” list of beings that are considered sacred to local Native American people. Although I am not aware of any plans for a turtle (Mikinak) hunt the DNR did authorize a highly controversial eastern grey wolf (Maiingan) hunt in 2012. A bald eagle (Migizi) hunt seems unthinkable, but many people would have said the same about a wolf hunt 15 years ago.

Someone at the DNR also thought maybe that it would be a good idea to frame the discussion of endangered species from the perspective of European explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries, rather than focusing on the healthy hunting and land-use practices of the Dakota and Ojibwe people who managed the lands for centuries before the Europeans arrived. You can look it over here while I knock this chip off my shoulder. (Screen grab below)

Source: Updating MN list of endangered, threatened, special concern species

Cultural faux pas aside, I think that some of the most significant changes to the listings are the inclusion of moose, and a large number of fish, plants, and insects to the state’s protected lists. For example, after eyeballing the charts accompanying the release, listings for dragonflies, mosses, lichens and plant-life have increased maybe ten-fold or more since 1996. I’m no biologist by any means, but I think that there may be both good and bad news in this report for environmentalists, hunters, loggers, farmers, and miners. Not that a person couldn’t be more than one (or all) of those things concurrently. But the enormous increase in threatened/endangered/special concern species overall is somewhat alarming to me.

The entire list is here (it is an enormous pdf). A shorter summary is here

5 Comment(s)

  1. I just wanted to note for those of you who do not know me that I am not Native American myself and I do not follow Native American spiritual practices. And although I do work for a Native American organization, I think that it is sufficiently widely known in the general population that the bald eagle, wolf, and turtle are considered sacred to Native people that someone at the DNR must have known these things before sending out this press release.

    JP Rennquist | Aug 19, 2013 | New Comment
  2. I don’t know enough to address your concerns about Native people; however I wanted to comment on the increase of listed species. In some cases the increase in listed species has more to do with additional knowledge or study than it does with increased threats over time. That’s not to say there aren’t more threats to habitat now than in 1996. But sometimes, particularly with insects and some of the lesser-known critters, survey work turns up small numbers of a species previously unrecorded in MN, and that’s what generates the listing. We don’t have good range information for the vast majority of insect species, and new listings or changes to existing lists often represent better understanding of species rather than new threats.

    rrrr | Aug 19, 2013 | New Comment
  3. Not necessarily to add to your Native American angst on this, but turtles, including snapping turtles, can be legally harvested in MN, and I’m pretty sure its been that way for a long time. It requires a fishing license and a special turtle license. From the MN DNR fishing regulations booklet:

    Turtles: Resident licensed anglers and children under 16 may take, possess, and transport turtles for personal use. Western painted, snapping, and spiny softshell turtles are the only harvestable species and may be taken. Harvest by explosives, drugs, poisons, lime, and other harmful substances is prohibited. Harvest by traps, nets, or other commercial equipment requires a recreational turtle license, in addition to an angling license. A DNR permit is required to collect turtle eggs from natural nests. Residents under age 18 may take, possess, rent, or sell up to 25 turtles for use in a nonprofit turtle race.
    • The snapping turtle possession limit is 3.
    Minimum size limit is 12″ in shell length. Snapping turtles may not be taken during May and June.
    • Spiny softshell minimum size limit is 12″ in shell length. Spiny softshells may not be taken June 1-July 15.
    • Western painted turtle maximum size limit is 5½” in shell length, except that those used in turtle races may be of any length greater than 4″

    mnbeerdrinker | Aug 19, 2013 | New Comment
  4. Bald eagles, along with many other bird species, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1908 between the USA and Canada. They’re pretty much one of the textbook endangered species list success stories. I don’t think anybody would want to eat anything that chows down on so much roadkill, anyway.

    Nathaniel | Aug 19, 2013 | New Comment
  5. Anytime I post a griping, complaining, “bitching” type of post I always end up regretting it. This is no exception.

    My real post actually begins after the phrase “cultural faux pas aside.”

    JP Rennquist | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment

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