Newsroom Midwest Region

Service announces $1.4 million in grants to help protect Great Lakes Region imperiled species

March 4, 2021

A wood turtle rests on a white cloth surrounded by monitoring tools
A wood turtle rests on a white cloth surrounded by monitoring tools. Photo by Jessica Piispanen/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are pleased to announce that vulnerable wildlife across the nation will benefit from approximately $7.4 million in grants thanks to the Competitive State Wildlife Grant (C-SWG) Program. The program supports projects led by state and commonwealth fish and wildlife agencies protecting imperiled wildlife and their habitat. This year’s Great Lakes Region grantees will receive $1.4 million in federal grant funds for three conservation projects.

The Missouri Department of Conservation will led a group of agencies, non-governmental organizations and universities in installing wildlife tracking receivers in six states and in Costa Rica, Columbia and Mexico. The effort to install a total of 59 new Motus receivers will be led by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Motus receivers provide new and accurate data on many tagged species of migratory birds including three of interest to the project’s partners: the golden-winged warbler, wood thrush and American kestrel. The data will help inform the Service’s status review of the golden-winged warbler for potential listing under the ESA. The project will also add to the strategic Motus network in the Midwest, allowing other researchers to collaborate and collect new information on a wide variety of birds, bats and insects identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in collaboration with Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, will target the wood turtle and ornate box turtle in a landscape-scale turtle conservation initiative. The wood turtle is a state-listed species in Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin and is undergoing review for potential listing by the Service under the ESA. Both turtles are threatened by habitat degradation and fragmentation, vehicle collisions, nest depredation and collection for the pet trade. The departments can mitigate these threats by creating nesting and foraging habitat, installing barriers to reduce road mortality, and identifying potential locations for new restoration efforts.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Natural History Survey will work to conserve native freshwater mussel species in the Fox River watershed, which spans the border between Wisconsin and Illinois. Many species are listed as endangered species listing or are under review for listing. This project will analyze native freshwater mussel distributions and trends to identify the most significant remaining assemblages in the watershed. Funds will be used for genetic research, habitat restoration and protection and captive rearing that will lay the groundwork for reintroduction of at-risk species.

The C-SWG Program employs a nationally competitive process to select and fund projects that conserve species listed in State Wildlife Action Plans. All 56 state, territorial and commonwealth wildlife agencies have such plans, which target state-identified Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Supporting these projects can accelerate the recovery of endangered species and potentially prevent others from being listed. The Program also facilitates collaboration among state, federal, tribal and non-governmental fish and wildlife managers, creating nationwide conservation networks. Fortifying this spirit of collaboration are $2.8 million in non-federal funds provided by states and their partners.

The C-SWG Program is part of the larger SWG Program, which awards grants according to a formula described in the annual appropriations act and based on a state, territory or commonwealth’s geographical size and population.