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State DNR proposes changes to the endangered and threatened species list

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Lester Graham
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Trumpeter swans in early spring startle a Canada goose. Trumpeters were nonexistent in Michigan until reintroduced. The DNR proposes removing the trumpeter from the endangered and threatened species list because of the bird's successful repopulation.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to change the state's endangered and threatened species list. A periodic review is required by law. Usually the DNR proposes changes every decade. It’s been 13 years since the last update.

In that time, trumpeter swans have become more common. Merlins and red-shouldered hawks are both thriving. Like a lot of other species, the DNR proposes taking them off the list. But some other birds, insects, plants, fish, and animals are declining.

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David Kenyon
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MI Dept. of Natural Resources
The eastern box turtle is a species proposed for listing as threatened under the current review of the Michigan endangered and threatened species list.

Jennifer Kleitch is an endangered species specialist with the DNR.

“The list includes 58 species being added as threatened or endangered. It also includes de-listing to ‘no status’ of 36 species,” she said.

You can find the proposed list here. Click on the “Draft Rule Language” download.

There are a lot of reasons why some species are in decline. Habitat loss is one of the common reasons, but disease is also a factor.

“We have three bat species that are being newly listed: the northern long-eared bat, the little brown bat, and the eastern pipistrelle, also known as the tri-colored bat,” Kleitch said.

Bats across the nation have been killed by the millions by a disease called white nose syndrome.

The rusty patched bumble bee and other bees are proposed to be added to the list.

Being on the endangered and threatened species list means protections for the flora or fauna that’s in decline. For animals, it protects them from what the DNR calls “take.”

“To 'take' fish or wildlife means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct,” Kleitch explained.

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Lester Graham
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A red-shouldered hawk near Muskegon. This bird of prey is proposed to be removed from the endangered and threatened species list.

For plants, it means you cannot collect, pick, cut, dig up, or destroy the protected species in any manner.

There are penalties under the law.

“A person who violates this part or who fails to procure any permit required under this part is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or less than $100.00, or both.”

A public hearing is being held Tuesday morning at 9 to introduce the proposed changes. It will be held at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in downtown Lansing.

If you plan to go and have something you want to say, the DNR asks that your statement also be submitted in writing.

If you cannot make it to the public hearing, you can submit your comments to DNR-EndangeredSpeciesList@Michigan.gov by September 30.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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