Newsroom Midwest Region

Midwest State Wildlife Conservation Projects Receive More Than $8 Million

March 24, 2016

Eastern Hellbender. Photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke/Creative Commons.
Eastern Hellbender. Photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke/Creative Commons.

Critical support for species in greatest conservation need, including those not hunted or fished, will benefit from $8 million allocated to the Midwest states. These funds will help the eastern hellbender, mussel research, migrating bats and to collect data on as many species as possible.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced almost $50 million in State Wildlife Grant funding to U.S. states and territories that provide critical support for imperiled species and habitats listed in approved State Wildlife Action Plans. All 50 states and U.S. territorial wildlife agencies have such plans, which proactively protect species in greatest conservation need. The Service’s Midwest Region includes eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“State wildlife agencies are critical in protecting America’s wild places and the animals that live there. These funds are an important component in their conservation and management efforts, and one that the Service is proud to help support,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By working together with these and other partners, I am confident we can effectively conserve our nation’s natural legacy on a landscape scale for current and future generations of Americans.”

Examples of State Wildlife Grant projects include:

  • Eastern Hellbender: The Indiana Department of Natural Resources uses State Wildlife Grant funds to increase eastern hellbender populations in suitable locations throughout Indiana. Initial research indicated that the Indiana population of hellbenders is at risk of extirpation within 25 years. Through the use of translocation of native adults and head-started juveniles from West Virginia, local hellbender numbers and density increased. This success has led to natural extensions and additional State Wildlife Grant projects exploring local captive rearing techniques, post-release survival and habitat suitability for future translocations.

  • Minnesota’s Rare Mussels: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources uses State Wildlife Grant funds to survey, monitor, propagate and research mussel species throughout the state. The targeted mussels are state-identified species of greatest conservation need, and several are also federally listed under the Endangered Species Act. The long term goal of this program is to successfully restore viable populations of 30 at-risk mussel species in Minnesota by 2035.

  • Three Migrating Bats: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has teamed up with the Ohio State University to use State Wildlife Grant funds for a number of projects. One study uses genetic techniques to explore whether three species of migrating bats- red, silver-haired and hoary bats- sampled from one location, have originated from a single or multiple geographically distinct populations. This research will provide information on migration routes by individuals from multiple populations, migration timing and how these patterns compare across the different species.

  • What Lives Where: The lack of species specific information on abundance and distribution not covered by traditional surveys was one of the concerns highlighted in the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan. Using State Wildlife Grant funds since 2004, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has been inventorying and monitoring multiple species at state conservation areas. The project collects data on as many species as possible within the bird, mammal, herpetofauna, fish, butterfly, mussel, dragonfly and damselfly taxonomic groups. The expected results of this project are to provide basic distribution knowledge, abundance and ecological needs of many of the wildlife species in Iowa.

State Wildlife Grants grants are administered by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and are allocated to states and territories according to a congressionally mandated formula based on population and geographic area. Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management and monitoring identified within State Wildlife Action Plans. The funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan. 

For the complete list of 2016 State Wildlife Grant apportionments, visit http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2016/state-wildlife-grants-fy16-apportionment.pdf (PDF)