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Endangered Species Program
Conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems
2017 News Archives
Eastern prairie fringed orchid recovery efforts continue in Illinois
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.
Kirtland's warblers find Wisconsin a good place to nest
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.
Purple cat’s paw pounces back
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.
2017 was another very good year for Great Lakes piping plovers
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.
Piloting new partnerships for bat conservation
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.
New technology helps 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.
For this Missouri bat ambassador, conservation begins at homeu
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.”
It's Bat Week! Check out these great Bat Haiku
Unleashing their inner poet, folks at a recent Bat Event in Indiana wrote homages in verse to one of our favorite animals.
First Minnesota Bat Festival -- A batacular success!
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.
Cat Island Chain supports four endangered piping plover nests
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.
12-month Finding on Petitions to List 25 Species
Finding include iIncludes one Midwestern species: Kirtland's snake
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.
In historic recovery step Dakota skippers
reintroduced in Minnesota
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.”
Old Man Plover's Legacy Lives On
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.
Celebrating the future and appreciating the
past Protecting the Indiana bat
for three decades
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.
Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae releases
boost recovery effort
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.
Highlighting the importance of pollinators
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
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.”
now confirmed in six Minnesota counties;
fungus detected in Texas
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.”
April 2017: First Photographic Record of Kirtland’s warbler in Cuba!
April 17, 2017: Bat Appreciation Day!
Last updated: February 7, 2019