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)
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.