For the first time since 1996, the Minnesota Department of Natural resources has updated its statewide list of endangered, threatened and special concern species.
The list was first crafted in 1984 to help protect plants and animals at risk of extinction and now, after five public hearings, an 86-day comment period and review by an administrative law judge, the DNR removed 29 species from the list, added 180 species and changed the concern status of 91 species. The five hearings took place in Rochester, New Ulm, Bemidji, Duluth and Plymouth in January and February.
State law dictates the DNR must periodically update the list based on information acquired from biological surveys. The bald eagle, wolf and snapping turtle were all removed from the endangered list. These updates are effective beginning Aug. 19, 2013.
FULL LIST: http://bit.ly/18G0ONw
THREE LEVELS OF CONCERN
Minnesota's endangered species law prescribes three levels of concern. The 2013 update changed the status of 91 species.
Endangered: Species is at great risk of extinction within the state
Threatened: Species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future
Special concern: A species of special concern, though not at immediate risk, is considered vulnerable because of its rarity or highly specific habitat requirements
RESTORATION, NOT RESTRICTION
State law prohibits the taking or possession of a threatened or endangered species unless a permit has been issued by the DNR.
When a new development project cannot avoid a protected species on the list, the state can issue a taking permit combined with a plan to protect the species at risk. The state has issued permits for 22 of the 23 projects proposed over the past decade.
"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," said Rich Baker, DNR endangered species coordinator. "There are plenty of examples of that happening, and it doesn't have to come at the expense of sustainable economic development."