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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species program is conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems.
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2016 News Archives
To the bat cave! Celebrating Bat Week at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
While bats are often associated with Halloween because they are considered scary or creepy, these furry, winged creatures are actually gentle, fascinating and vital to the health of our environment and economy. During Bat Week this year (October 24-31, 2016) the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge hosted its second annual Bat Week celebration on October 29. Participants found out more about bats, why they need our help - right now more than ever - and how they could help these indispensable critters by building their own bat house or planting native seed on the refuge.
Service partners (Minnesota Valley, Twin Cities Field Office and Regional Office Ecological Services) and the Minnesota DNR made this a fun-filled day for visitors of all ages. The Minnesota DNR joined us to show folks their cool bat survey equipment, including telemetry equipment and mist-nets used for locating bats over the summer months. There was also a local Boy Scout Pack on hand to assist with bat house construction. More than 400 visitors attended the event and had the opportunity to make a bat house to take home. Bats use these houses during spring and summer to raise their young. We had 150 bat house kits available for people to assemble, with the refuge donating 100 of the bat house kits. A local citizen who read about our Bat Week event at the refuge last year and was inspired to help out donated another 50 kits.
Why we need a pollinator ambassador
November 15, 2016
It’s the end of the migration season for monarch butterflies, and the Midwest has been keen to aid them on their journey.
The annual monarch migration is becoming a community event. In Minneapolis, conservationists organized educational – but festive – butterfly send-offs. And from Michigan to Missouri, residents are collecting and planting milkweed and other native nectar plants so winged travelers can survive their journey.
Not every pollinator is so fortunate. Many lack the cultural charisma which has made the monarch so popular with humans– you’re unlikely to find any pollen wasp festivals. This is why we are using the butterfly’s star-power to help those criticized insects, even if it draws attention away from them.
Record breaking number of Great Lakes
piping plover chicks fledged
Groundhog Day? Seems like the Great Lakes piping plover population is a rerun of the beginning of last year’s nesting season. The 2016 season started with the same two males arriving at the two exact same places in Michigan and on the same exact April day as in 2015. These males, BO:X,g at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and OF,YG:X,G at Manistee, are two of the oldest plovers in the population and have been nesting at these sites for many years. This highlights the high site fidelity that is displayed by piping plovers; where individual birds are not only tied into a location but even follow similar patterns year after year.
Oct. 22, 2016: Michigan cub scouts are bat heroes!
America's hometown dedicated
nature preserve for both people and bats
Oct. 21, 2016
HANNIBAL, Mo. - Today Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and City of Hannibal Mayor James Hark joined other federal, state and local officials, residents and private partners to celebrate the completion of an extraordinary effort to conserve and create a nationally important Indiana bat habitat area and community park in the historic hometown of Mark Twain.
Bean announced that Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has proclaimed October 24 through October 31 as National Bat Week, highlighting the ecological and economic importance of bats in controlling insect pests and as pollinators. Secretary Jewell asks the American public to join her in recognizing the importance of bats, the threats they face, including white-nose syndrome, and the stewardship role the Department plays in providing valuable habitat for bats, research and recovery actions throughout the nation.
Oct. 21, 2016: Celebrating the future and appreciating the past: Marking 25 years of protecting cave habitats in Missouri
Why Save Endangered Species?
Why Save Endangered Species?
It's complicated. This video provides an answer in pictures and minimal text. Below is an answer from Brett Ratcliffe, Curator and Professor, University of Nebraska State Museum and the World Wildlife Fund. Scroll down further on the page and you will see President Richard Nixon's answer.
Do you have a favorite response to this question?
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists eastern
massasauga rattlesnake as threatened species
Sept. 29, 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the eastern massasauga rattlesnake as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also determined that designating critical habitat for the eastern massasauga is not prudent.
Eastern massasaugas are currently found in scattered locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. The species, a candidate for listing since 1999, has been declining over the past few decades due to loss and fragmentation of its wetland habitat. Nearly 40 percent of the historical populations are now extirpated and an additional 15 percent are of uncertain status. Of those known remaining populations, most are experiencing ongoing threats, meaning additional population losses are anticipated in the future.
Service Proposes Protections for Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Under Endangered Species Act
Sept. 13, 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, citing a steep decline in the species’ numbers throughout its range. The rusty patched bumble bee, once widespread, is now found in scattered, small populations in 12 states and one Canadian province.
Twenty years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was an abundant native pollinator found across a broad geographic range that included 28 states and the District of Columbia, from Connecticut to South Dakota and north into two provinces in Canada. The rusty patched bumble bee is now found only in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin – and Ontario, Canada. Abundance and distribution of rusty patched bumble bee populations have declined by an estimated 91 percent since the mid to late 1990s.
Genoa National Fish Hatchery Grows Dragonflies
Sept. 13, 2016
With glowing green eyes and a metallic green body, the rare Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) is found only in a few pockets of the Midwest. First discovered in Ohio, the dragonfly was thought to be extinct by the mid-1900s due to the negative impacts of urban sprawl in its home range. The dragonfly’s status changed when an adult Hine’s emerald dragonfly was identified in the Des Plaines River Valley, southwest of Chicago, Illinois in 1988. By 1995 the dragonfly was placed on the federal list of endangered species. The Hine’s is the only dragonfly in the country listed as federally endangered. Its story illuminates the unique role that a national fish hatchery can play in the captive rearing and recovery of an endangered species.
Within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hine’s emerald dragonfly restoration and recovery efforts are led by the Chicago Ecological Services Field Office in close partnership with the University of South Dakota. Together, they developed a captive rearing protocol and monitored the species across its current range in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Service Creates ESA Listing Workplan to Provide Predictability and Encourage Proactive
Conservation of Imperiled Wildlife
Sept. 1, 2016
As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness and implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and provide the best possible conservation for our nation’s imperiled wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released today its National Listing Workplan for addressing ESA listing and critical habitat decisions over the next seven years.
This announcement comes as Service biologists wrap up work on a previous list of more than 250 species that had been identified as candidates for protection under the ESA. This new workplan will allow the Service to meet its current and future ESA obligations while creating opportunity for partnerships aimed at delivering conservation on the ground to keep working lands working, protect local ways of life and reduce regulatory burdens, saving the ESA’s protection for the species that need it most.
Aug. 26, 2016: Restoring Riparian Natives at Wright Patterson Air Force Base
Aug. 9, 2016: Endangered piping plover nests in Lower Green Bay for the first time in 75 years
Aug. 9, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Awards Grants to 34 States, District of Columbia for Work on Deadly Bat Disease
A happy accident results in a great start
for winged mapleleaf recovery
June 30, 2016
Winged mapleleaf (Quadrula fragosa) was historically widespread in the central United States, with records from at least 41 rivers in 16 states. Today the species inhabits only five rivers; at least three of the five extant populations face significant threats or are of uncertain viability. The capability to propagate and reintroduce winged mapleleaf into habitats that it occupied historically would facilitate its recovery. In its 1997 recovery plan for the species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that at least five viable populations would be necessary to recover the species, but that more than five may be necessary “to maintain the species” and to ensure its “optimal geographic distribution."
Winged mapleleaf are known to occur in the north (i.e., St. Croix and Mississippi rivers in Minnesota and Wisconsin) and the south (i.e., Bourbeuse River in Missouri, Saline and Ouachita rivers in Arkansas, and the Little River in Oklahoma). Two parallel efforts to propagate winged mapleleaf are ongoing – one in the northern part of the species’ range that uses mussels from the St. Croix River for propagation and one in the south that relies on the Saline River population in Arkansas for broodstock.
June 27, 2016: Eastern Cougar Delisting Proposal - comment period re-opened
June 17, 2016: Draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Wildcat Wind Farm Available for Public Comment
Wisconsin’s Robert Hess Steps Up
for Endangered Karner Blue Butterflies
June 16, 2016
Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes the outstanding efforts of people across the nation who have gone above and beyond to help imperiled species. This year, we celebrated heroes for their work with imperiled species coast to coast, including the Steller’s eider in Alaska, the Florida scrub jay, the Louisiana black bear and the Columbian white-tailed deer in the Pacific Northwest.
In the Midwest, the Service celebrated Robert Hess, whose tireless efforts have furthered the recovery of the Karner blue. Hess recently retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources after spending the past 9 years as the state’s recovery coordinator for the Karner blue. Truly a champion for this species, Hess has been a successful advocate for the butterfly by developing partnerships, coordinating and conducting population and habitat assessments, and restoring habitat for the species in Wisconsin. He has fostered support for the species through forging partnerships, securing grants and coordinating population monitoring at recovery properties across the state.
Service Announces Findings on
Two Endangered Species Act Petitions
June 2, 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed initial reviews of two petitions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); one to remove ESA protections for the golden-cheeked warbler and one to add the U.S. population of the northwestern subspecies of moose to the list of threatened and endangered species under the ESA.
May 23, 2016: Midwest imperiled species receive more than $2.2 million
May 23, 2016: States Tracking Turtles
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Salutes
Midwest Champions for
Endangered Species Recovery
May 20, 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today recognized individuals and teams across the country for their exceptional efforts to conserve and protect the nation’s rarest fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2015 Recovery Champions. Award winners honored for their work this year include a Wisconsin biologist and staff at Neosho National Fish Hatchery in Missouri.
"Conserving our nation's imperiled species is one of the toughest challenges of our time," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "The recipients of this award have dedicated their lives to this task and we are eternally grateful for their tenacity, dedication and passion for safeguarding hundreds of species of native wildlife and the wild places they call home."
May 19, 2016: Partners Across the Globe to Celebrate 11th Annual Endangered Species Day
May 5, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hosts Online Information Meetings on Draft Midwest Wind Habitat Conservation Plan
May 3, 2016: Federal Agencies Proposed Revisions to
Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances Policy under the Endangered Species Act
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Determines
Critical Habitat is Not Prudent for
Threatened Northern Long-eared Bat
Determination based on desire to reduce potential disturbance at hibernation sites, habitat requirements of species, and acknowledgement of white-nose syndrome as primary threat
April 25, 2016
Given the nature of the primary threats facing the species and the potential harm of publishing its hibernation locations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that designating critical habitat for the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not prudent. The Service’s determination does not affect the bat’s threatened status, which it received in 2015 due to white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease impacting cave-dwelling bats.
Critical habitat is a designation under the ESA for lands that contain habitat features that are essential for the survival and recovery of a listed species, which may require special management considerations or protections. The ESA requires the Service to consider which areas are needed for a species’ recovery and to designate critical habitat accordingly, unless it determines that doing so is not prudent for the species.
April 21, 2016: Bats as Superheroes: bats featured at Earth Day Event for 4th and 5th Graders
Draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Midwest Wind Energy Promotes Coordinated Industry Engagement in Conservation of At-Risk Species
April 14, 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released a draft plan to help ensure wind development does not contribute to the decline of species that already are impacted by threats such as disease and loss of habitat. The Draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) outlines measures for participating Midwest wind energy companies to follow to help reduce the nation’s carbon emissions and further sustainable energy independence while ensuring those efforts contribute to conserving protected bat and bird species.
The plan enables the Service to monitor and reduce “incidental take” of protected species caused by wind energy development and operation within an eight-state plan area, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Species covered by the plan include the Indiana, northern long-eared and little brown bats, as well as Kirtland’s warbler, interior least tern, bald eagle, and the Great Lakes and Great Plains populations of the piping plover.
April 12, 2016: Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines Available
April 12, 2016: National Wildlife Refuges Help to Recover Threatened, Endangered Species in Michigan and Wisconsin
April 11, 2016: Protecting and Restoring Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Habitat in Northeast Michigan
April 4, 2016: New Information Shows Sprague’s Pipit Does Not Require Federal Protection
March 15, 2016: First Great Lakes Piping Plover Spotted Wintering in Cuba
March 31, 2016: Bat with white-nose syndrome confirmed in Washington state
March 30, 2016: Searching for the Northern Long-eared Bat at Unexpected Places
March 28, 2016: Updated "Cave Advisory: recommendations to reduce WNS impacts.
March 24, 2016: Midwest State Wildlife Conservation Projects Receive More Than $8 Million: Includes At-Risk Wildlife
First Great Lakes Piping Plover Spotted Wintering in Cuba
March 15, 2016
For the first time ever, a rare Great Lakes piping plover has been spotted spending the winter in Cuba. Typically Great Lakes piping plovers winter in tidal inlets along the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, though a handful have been reported wintering in the Bahamas and also for the first time ever, in Cancun, Mexico, this winter.
Great Lakes piping plovers are one of the most endangered species in the region, numbering 75 pairs in 2015. While this is still critically endangered, conservation efforts by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other conservation partners have helped this unique population of piping plovers recover from only about15 pairs at the time they were added to the federal endangered species list in 1986.
March 15, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Will Study the Status of the American Burying Beetle and Yellow-banded Bumble Bee
Stopping Extinction of a Prairie Butterfly – Poweshiek Skipperling
Poweshiek skipperlings are blinking out fast. Since they only live in native prairies that have never been plowed, one might not find this too surprising. But until very recently, Poweshiek skipperlings were the most frequently and reliably encountered prairie-obligate skipper in Minnesota (Dana 2008).Yet, between 2003 and 2015, surveyors observed an abrupt and rapid decline as population after population was lost. Even in Minnesota and South Dakota - once considered the species’ stronghold, all were lost. Surveyors can no longer find Poweshiek skipperlings at nearly 300 previously known locations. The skipperling appears to survive only in very low numbers at one site in Wisconsin, one location in Manitoba and a few prairie fens in a single Michigan county. Today there are far fewer Poweshiek skipperlings in the world than there are wild giant pandas.
Prairie loss and degradation led to the initial decline of Poweshiek skipperlings, but causes of the recent sharp decline remain a mystery. We suspect several threats may be responsible, such as an unknown disease or parasite, climate change or use of pesticides. Research has begun in an effort to narrow down the cause or causes of the decline.
Species of Concern:
Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
Did you know that there are 21 species of bumble bees in the eastern United States? Bumble bees are among the most important pollinators of tomatoes, as well as many wildflowers. Graced with imaginative names (i.e., indiscriminate bumble bee, confusing bumble bee, Fernald cuckoo bumble bee), these species range from the familiar - such as the eastern common bumble bee - to those that are uncommon, rare, or, like the variable cuckoo bumble bee, possibly even extinct.
The rusty patched bumble bee is one of those whose populations are declining. This relatively small bumble bee was once widely distributed across the eastern United States and Upper Midwest, from Maine and southern Quebec and Ontario, south to the northeast corner of Georgia and reaching west to the eastern edges of the Dakotas. The rusty patched bumble bee occupied grasslands and tallgrass prairies, where they gathered pollen and nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants. Unfortunately, much of this habitat has disappeared, lost to other land uses, or degraded and fragmented.
Petition from Xerces Society (links to a PDF)
Hunting for an Elusive Orchid
February 1, 2016
Open Spaces is featuring posts by Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns working to promote, protect and study wildlife on public lands all over the United States. Since 1957, SCA has been connecting young people from all backgrounds with life-changing, career-making conservation service opportunities. Learn how you can get involved at www.thesca.org. Today, Claire Ellwanger checks in from the Chicago Ecological Services Office.
The search for orchids had begun. We were crouched on our hands and knees one day last summer, enveloped in humidity and prairie grasses. As we rustled the sedges and grasses, the mosquitoes floated up to surround us. We searched exhaustively on the ground where orchids had been seen in the last couple of years, sadly to no avail.
Protections Finalized for Threatened Northern Long-Eared Bats
Regulations focus on significant threats to the species so conservation efforts can be focused where they have the greatest effect
January 13, 2016
In an effort to conserve the northern long-eared bat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a final rule today that uses flexibilities under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to tailor protections to areas affected by white-nose syndrome during the bat’s most sensitive life stages. The rule is designed to protect the bat while minimizing regulatory requirements for landowners, land managers, government agencies and others within the species’ range.
Jan. 7, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Proposals from States For FY 2016 Endangered Species Grants
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