Midwest Region Endangered Species Conserving the nature of America

Endangered Species Program


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.




U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Service in the Midwest


The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Find a location near you.


The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Find a location near you »

2017 News Archives


Eastern prairie fringed orchid recovery efforts continue in Illinois

Hand pollinating an eastern prairie fringed orchid.

The eastern prairie fringed orchid, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, depends on its annual seed set to maintain its population. Year after year, the species’ population at the Lone Grove Forest Preserve in Kane County, Illinois, lacked viable seed production even though flowering plants were abundant.


Learn More »

Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid


Kirtland's warblers find Wisconsin a good place to nest

Kirtland's warbler

The 2017 Kirtland’s warbler nesting season marked the 10th year anniversary of the return of endangered Kirtland’s to Wisconsin. From only 11 Kirtland’s and three nests found in Adams County in 2007 to 53 individuals and 20 total nests among Adams, Marinette and Bayfield counties in 2017.


Learn More »

Kirtland's Warbler



Purple cat’s paw pounces back

Service Biologist Angela Boyer uses a PIT tag reader to locate released mussels.

Not long ago, purple cat’s paw pearlymussels were thought to be functionally extinct. When the species was listed as endangered in 1990, only a few individuals could be found, and they were too old to reproduce. Then, in 1994, a small population of the species was discovered in Killbuck Creek in Ohio.


Learn More »

Purple Cat's Paw Pearlymussel



2017 was another very good year for Great Lakes piping plovers

Piping plover

Despite stormy weather and predators, 2017 proved to be a record year for endangered Great Lakes piping plovers. Biologists and plover monitors once again fanned out throughout the Great Lakes Basin, searching likely habitat for incoming piping plovers in April and May. The overall pair count was excellent, with 76 breeding pairs located throughout the Great Lakes, a record number of pairs since the population was listed in 1985.


Learn More »

Piping Plovers



Piloting new partnerships for bat conservation

Biologist using telemetry to find Indiana bats.


Aircraft aren’t the only things flying around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Endangered Indiana bats patrol the night skies, foraging for insects over the Mad River corridor. This 8,000-arcre installation contains about 700 acres of forested areas along streams, with a wide variety of native trees: maple, oak, hickory and others. The site is prime summer habitat for Indiana bats; managers discovered a maternity colony in 1993 and have been tracking it ever since.


Learn More »

Bat Week

New technology helps count hibernating bats

Service biologist Shauna Marquardt tests new technology to count hibernating bats.


It’s a challenge – counting bats during hibernation when they’re sensitive to disturbance. Every two years, scientists head into caves, mines and other hibernation sites to count endangered Indiana bats with as little intrusion as possible. Hibernation sites are dark, and bats are too – adding to the challenge. Surveyors quickly take photos of clusters of hibernating bats and then examine the photos later, counting bat noses to determine population numbers.


Learn More »

Bat Week


For this Missouri bat ambassador, conservation begins at homeu

Bat ambassadors Dave and Gunilla Murphy. Photos courtesy of Dave Murphy.


Dave Murphy doesn’t remember the first time he seriously thought about bats. As a kid growing up on a farm in northeastern Missouri, he recalls bats occasionally entering the old farmhouse and flying around inside. “I don’t remember us ever killing one, just catching it and putting it outside.”


Learn More »

Bat Week



It's Bat Week! Check out these great Bat Haiku


Bat haikus written on post-it notes and pinned to bulletin board.


Unleashing their inner poet, folks at a recent Bat Event in Indiana wrote homages in verse to one of our favorite animals.


Bat Haiku »

Bat Week


First Minnesota Bat Festival -- A batacular success!


Crowd at the Bat Festival held at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


Visitors poured into the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center on August 19, 2017, for the first (and, we hope, annual) Minnesota Bat Festival. An estimated 3,000 people attended over the course of the day, one of the largest turnouts for an event at the visitor center on record.


Learn more »



Cat Island Chain supports four endangered piping plover nests


Piping plover


It’s another groundbreaking year for endangered Great Lakes piping plovers in Lower Green Bay. Four pairs nested at the Cat Island Chain this year, fledging six chicks, just a year after a pair nested at the site for the first time in more than 75 years.


Learn more »

About Piping Plovers



12-month Finding on Petitions to List 25 Species


Finding include iIncludes one Midwestern species: Kirtland's snake


Learn more »



Service provides $1 million to states to combat bat-killing fungal disease: funding totals $166,292 to battle disease in six Midwest states



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced over $1 million in grants to 37 states and the District of Columbia to help combat white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of North American bats in recent years. Funds will help states find ways to prevent the spread of WNS while increasing survival rates of afflicted species.

Learn more »

WNS Home



In historic recovery step Dakota skippers

reintroduced in Minnesota

This Dakota skipper was photographed in a release "house" just before it

was moved to a purple conflower as

Photo by Andrew Horton; USFWS


July 27, 2017

This summer, the Minnesota Zoo, in partnership with the Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conducted the first-ever reintroduction of the threatened Dakota skipper at The Nature Conservancy’s Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie preserve. This once widespread prairie butterfly has nearly vanished from much of its former range and is now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act list and as endangered by the state of Minnesota. “This is what we have been working towards,” says Dr. Erik Runquist, Minnesota Zoo’s Butterfly Conservation Biologist. “These amazing butterflies have a chance to thrive again thanks to all the efforts of the Minnesota Zoo and our outstanding partners. This is definitely a team effort and we are thrilled to have made so much progress thus far.”


Continue article »


Dakota Skipper Home



Old Man Plover's Legacy Lives On


Piping plover chick; Old Man Plover's last chick.

Old Man Plover's last chick.

Photo by Vince Cavalieri; USFWS


July 27, 2017

He was a legend, at least in terms of piping plovers. After tens of thousands of miles migrating between Michigan and South Carolina, 15 breeding seasons and raising 36 chicks, BO:X,g, also known as Old Man Plover, finally disappeared this season. It was inevitable; the Old Man likely finally fell to one of the many plover predators. But when he disappeared, the wheels of the Great Lakes Piping Plover recovery effort kicked into high gear. Monitors at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore alerted the Service that BO:X,g’s nest may have been abandoned.


Plans were made to collect the eggs and take them to the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, where the Detroit Zoo leads a salvage captive rearing effort. After the monitors collected the eggs and handed them off to the zookeepers at the captive rearing station, it was discovered that perhaps due to Old Man Plover’s advanced age, only one of the four eggs was viable. However, with the help of the zookeepers at the station, this egg went on to hatch, the chick survived and fledged. The chick was banded Of,B/OO:X,G as an homage to old BO:X,g.


Continue article »


Piping Plover Home


Celebrating the future and appreciating the

past Protecting the Indiana bat

for three decades


Rock outcroppings at Pilot Knob National Wildlife Refuge.

Rock outcroppings at Pilot Knob National Wildlife Refuge.

Photo by USFWS


July 17, 2017

Happy 30th birthday to Pilot Knob National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri! For three decades, this refuge has quietly gone about the business of protecting a large hibernacula of Indiana bats and today we’d like to take a moment to recognize this special place.


Like many national wildlife refuges, Pilot Knob has a rich cultural history. That history is written into the landscape itself, since it was mined for iron ore from 1830s until 1980. This 90-acre refuge was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Pilot Knob Ore Company in 1987 and is managed by staff at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. The donation was authorized under the Endangered Species Act as critical habitat, not because of the sparse forest and rock outcroppings above ground, but because of the habitat underground. 


At one time, more than 100,000 Indiana bats utilized the abandoned iron mine shafts in the mountain. This huge number of bats accounted for about one third of the world population of Indiana bats at the time the refuge was established. 


Continue article »


Indiana Bat Home

Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae releases

boost recovery effort


Hine’s emerald dragonfly larva prior to release into the stream-fed wetland.

Hine’s emerald dragonfly larva prior to release into th


July 2017

The endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly is among North America’s most imperiled dragonflies, facing threats like habitat loss, environmental contaminants and changes in groundwater. Among recovery strategies for the dragonfly is the release of Hine’s larvae using offspring reared at three facilities: Genoa National Fish Hatchery, the Urban Stream Research Center, operated by the DuPage Forest Preserve District, and the Illinois Dragonfly Research Center, run by the District and the University of South Dakota.


In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the University of South Dakota, we have been working to raise and release Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The effort began in 2011, when Hine’s emerald dragonfly eggs were collected from an Upper Peninsula swamp by researchers from the University of South Dakota as part of a study funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The study aimed at defining the genetic population structure and productivity of Hine’s emerald dragonfly sites located within the Great Lakes basin. The following year, the eggs hatched, and the larvae were separated into two groups. Each group was raised either indoors in a laboratory facility or in outdoor cages as part of a study examining larval growth rates across a variety of habitats. The larvae spent five years contributing to ongoing research at the University before returning to Michigan.


Continue article »


Hine's Emerald Dragonfly



Pollinator Week:

Highlighting the importance of pollinators


bumble bee and beetles on a flowering milkweed.

Pollinators include the insects, birds and mammals that help move pollen

from plant to plant.

Photo by Jill Utrup; USFWS

June 19, 2017

Today marks the start of pollinator week! A pollinator can be a bee, beetle, ant, wasp, butterfly, moth, hummingbird, bat or even a small mammal. These creatures assist a vital life stage for all flowering plants - something essential for healthy ecosystems.


What’s the problem?

Pollinator populations have been declining, and that’s bad news for us and the ecosystem. Without pollinators, many of the foods, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines we use daily wouldn’t be possible. You can help by reducing your impact, planting for pollinators, and spreading the word!


Reducing your impact

The most immediate way to help pollinators is to reduce your impact. Pesticides can be deadly to pollinators of all kinds. Think twice before using pesticides - are the pests you’re trying to remove worth removing essential pollinators as well? If you must use a pesticide, consider an organic alternative or apply the treatment when pollinators are less active.


Another way to reduce your impact to pollinators is to increase your green space. More plants and less pavement means pollinators will have more habitat. If you can have less grass and more garden that’s even better!



Moving the needle toward recovery:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honors

Midwest endangered species recovery champions


Dr. Robert Dana and Angela Dagendesh. The 2016 endangered species recovery champions.

Dr. Robert Dana and Angela Dagendesh.

The 2016 endangered species recovery champions.

Photo by USFWS

May 19, 2017

Innovation, expertise and decades of effort on behalf of imperiled species highlight the accomplishments of two Midwest biologists named by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as 2016 Endangered Species Recovery Champions. The Midwest champions are among 31 individuals and teams across the United States named by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their work with endangered and threatened species.


Dr. Robert Dana, a biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was honored for his more than 40 years of work and vast knowledge of butterflies, especially the threatened Dakota skipper and the endangered Poweshiek skipperling, two prairie butterflies. “Dr. Dana has played a critical role in the effort to conserve these two butterfly species,” said Tom Melius, the Service’s Midwest Regional Director. “His expertise with prairie habitat and uncommon ability to identify species in the field, together with his insight on their life history and willingness to share his hard-earned knowledge, have been critical in finding a path to recovery for the Dakota skipper and the Poweshiek skipperling.”


The Service also recognized Angela Dagendesh, assistant project leader at Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin, for her work to recover the Hine’s emerald dragonfly. These dragonflies overwinter in crayfish burrows during their life cycle; Dagendesh designed a system to rear Hine’s emerald dragonflies at the hatchery that mimics the living conditions found in the wild. “Angela’s work is moving the needle toward recovery for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly,” Melius said. “Thanks in great part to her efforts, we have been able to improve our program and shorten the time it takes to produce adult dragonflies. This is very exciting for recovery of this species.”


Continue reading article »


Dakota Skipper


Poweshiek Skipperling


Hine's Emerald Dragonfly



White-nose syndrome

now confirmed in six Minnesota counties;

fungus detected in Texas


A little brown bat showing white-nose syndrome symptoms.

A little brown bat showing white-nose syndrome symptoms.

Photo by USFWS


April 2017

White-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats, has now been confirmed in six Minnesota counties, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The disease was confirmed in Becker, Dakota, Fillmore, Goodhue and Washington counties. Minnesota’s first confirmed case of WNS was in St. Louis County in March 2016.


Recent bat surveys conducted by the Department of Natural Resources found declines in the annual bat count ranging from 31 to 73 percent in locations where WNS has been confirmed. The 73 percent decrease was observed at Soudan Underground Mine in St. Louis County, where the disease was first confirmed in Minnesota a year ago. Department of Natural Resources biologists think the sharp decline there may reflect how long the disease has been present.


“While some locations are still testing negative, the results of recent surveys lead us to conclude that WNS is likely to be present anywhere bats hibernate in Minnesota,” said Ed Quinn, Department of Natural Resources Program Supervisor. “Four of Minnesota’s bat species hibernate, and four species migrate. WNS will have a substantial effect on Minnesota’s hibernating bat population.”


Continue reading article »


White-nose Syndrome



April 2017: First Photographic Record of Kirtland’s warbler in Cuba!

Article »

Kirtland's Warbler Home




Female Kirtland's Warbler



April 17, 2017: Bat Appreciation Day!


Tricolored bat

Tricolored bat.

Photo by Pete Pattavina; USFWS

Bats: “The Coolest Mammals on Earth”

Taking Conservation Underground

Disease continues its fatal sweep of bats



Parent-reared whooping cranes migrated

to wintering sites

Whooping crane pair with young.

Photo courtesy Tom Benson/Creative Commons. https://flic.kr/p/dyUrnS

February 2017


The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s 2016 Parent-Rearing Project has concluded now that all the young whooping cranes released in the fall have arrived at wintering sites. This was the first year that the partnership exclusively employed a method called “parent-rearing,” a practice in which captive-hatched chicks are raised by pairs of adult whooping cranes. Previously, chicks were raised by costumed humans.


From mid-September through mid-November 2016, 12 young cranes making up the 2016 parent-rearing project were released in several locations near adult whooping crane pairs. Teams of staff and volunteers from the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, including Operation Migration, International Crane Foundation and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, monitored the released birds to observe behavior, associations with other whooping and sandhill cranes and vigilance towards predators. Data collected are entered into the Partnership’s growing database, a valuable resource for whooping crane researchers.


Continue Reading »


Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership



In a race against extinction, rusty patched

bumble bee is listed as endangered
First bumble bee protected under the

Endangered Species Act

Rusty patched bumble bee

January 10, 2017


Just 20 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was a common sight, so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it moved from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. But the species, now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction, has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States -- and the first bee of any kind in the contiguous 48 states -- to be declared endangered.


The endangered designation is made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act for species that are in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range. Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said, “Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”


Continue Reading »


Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Home


The effective date for the final rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered has been delayed to March 21, 2017. A rule making this change published in the Federal Register on February 10, 2017.


Midwest Endangered Species Home