Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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Endangered Species Program in the Upper Midwest

Conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems


Best year yet for Great Lakes piping plovers –

and guess who turned up in Michigan?

Piping plover

Photo by Vince Cavelieri/USFWS


Octrober 8, 2015


2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for endangered Great Lakes piping plovers. This summer, 75 pairs of plovers nested and fledged 128 chicks, a record for a species that was nearly extirpated in the 1980s. Loss of habitat had caused numbers to dip below 20 pairs before the small shorebird was listed as endangered in 1986. Since then, biologists and conservationists have worked tirelessly to save this rare bird from extinction, preserving and restoring habitat, protecting nesting areas and monitoring the birds’ migrations.


Most Great Lakes piping plovers nest along Great Lakes shorelines and spend the winters on the sunny beaches of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. However, last winter, a team of biologists and researchers from the United States and the Bahamas found an ultra-rare Great Lakes piping plover: the bird’s bands - Of,YG:X,O - showed the bird hatched at North Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. This find and a few other sightings of Great Lakes birds in the Bahamas showed researchers that these islands could also contain important winter habitat for the critically endangered Great Lakes population.


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What We Do

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. To fulfill our responsibilities, we do the following:


Candidate Conservation: identify and assess declining species that may need Endangered Species Act protection and take steps to conserve those species.


Listing: take steps to list candidate species as endangered or threatened and designate critical habitat. We also remove species from the Threatened and Endangered Species List ("delist") when they no longer need Endangered Species Act protection.


Recovery: protect, conserve and restore listed species. Recovery Report to Congress: 2009 to 2010 (PDF 3.1MB)


Section 7 Technical Assistance

Section 7 consultation guidance for Federal agencies and their applicants (i.e., project proponents).

Section 7 Consultation: all Federal agencies have a responsiblity to conserve threatened and endangered species and to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species. Under the authority of Section 7 of the Act, we consult with Federal agencies to help them fulfill their obligations.


Permits: issue permits to "take" listed species, under certain conditions.


Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs): work with Incidental Take permit applicants to help them prepare HCPs that minimize and mitigate the effects of their incidental take.


Grants: provide grants to States under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. These funds may, in turn, be awarded to private landowners and groups for conservation projects.


State Field Offices

We have Ecological Services Field Offices in each of the eight upper Midwest States. For project reviews, Section 7 consultation, or information about endangered species that you do not find on this site, please contact the Field Office in your state.



“Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of
preservation than the rich array of animal life with
which our country has been blessed. It is a many faceted
treasure, of value to scholars, scientists,
and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part
of the heritage we all share as Americans.”


Bloom of the prairie bush clover.  Photo by USFWS: Phil Delphey

Last updated: October 13, 2015