As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

DNR proposes additions to endangered species list


If you’re worried about the future of blog bluegrass and Blanding’s turtles in Wisconsin, now’s the time to speak up.

Experts from the state Department of Natural Resources said they believe those and 14 other species of plant and animal no longer need the protection of state law, but eight other critters do.

The DNR is proposing to make these changes to the state’s list of endangered and threatened species, but the public has a chance to weigh in first.

“The way our state manages its endangered species is through rule, and we’ve got to go through the rule process, which includes getting public comment,” said Erin Crain, director of the DNR Bureau of Endangered Species. The DNR has engaged its own and outside experts to keep tabs on the welfare of various species, but public comment is also helpful and is required by law before changes can be made, she said.

Green Bay is hosting one of the sessions at 11 a.m. Tuesday in room 1034 of the Instructional Services building at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Sessions are also being held Tuesday in Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Madison, and Wednesday in Wausau. The public can also submit comment to the DNR by mail or email this week.

Under Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Law, it is illegal for people to kill, transport, possess, process or sell species that are listed as endangered or threatened. The law requires DNR to review and revise the endangered or threatened species list as needed. Since the first list was developed in 1972, it has been revised 10 times, most recently in 2011 to add cave bats due to the imminent threat of white-nose syndrome.

New threats spark the need for change, but so does new information, like finding out a plant or animal isn’t as rare as scientists thought, Crain said. Also, protection often helps a certain species rally to the point where it no longer is in danger, she said.

“Wolves are a good example of the recovery of a species,” Crain said. “They used to be state-listed. The Wisconsin population over the years became very healthy, and the legislature determined they would like to see a harvest.”

The latest proposal recommends removing seven animals from the list: greater redhorse (fish), barn owl, snowy egret, Bewick’s wren, pygmy snaketail (dragonfly), Blanding’s turtle and Butler’s gartersnake. The proposal also recommends removing nine plants from the list: American fever-few, bog bluegrass, Canada horse-balm, drooping sedge, hemlock parsley, prairie Indian-plantain, snowy campion, yellow gentian and yellow giant hyssop.
The DNR wants to add three birds to the list — the black tern, Kirtland’s warbler and the upland sandpiper. It also wants to add the fawnsfoot, which is a freshwater mussel, and four insects — the beach-dune tiger beetle, ottoe skipper, a leafhopper and a planthopper.
New endangered species?
The DNR proposes to add these species to its endangered species list:

• Black tern (Chlidonias niger): A gull-like bird but with long, pointed wings and bill. It feeds by diving head first into water. Adults are mostly black with a dark gray back, wings and tail, uniform pale gray underwings and a fairly short tail. Habitat: marshes, shorelands, wetlands. A 2010 count revealed fewer than 1,000, making it possible the entire statewide population has fallen below 3,000. Threats: loss and degradation of breeding, wintering and migration route habitat.
• Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii): Large blue-gray and yellow warbler, known to “pump” its tail. Male is bluish gray above, with dark streaks in the feathers; yellow below, with black spots or streaks confined to the sides; blackish area in front and below the eye (missing in female), with prominent white crescents outlining the top and bottom of the eye. Markings less pronounced in females, some males and young. Wing bars present but not conspicuous. Habitat:Nests in jack pine. Population unknown. In Michigan, 3,600 were counted, about half were male, in 2009. Threat: Habitat loss, predation by brown-headed cowbirds, insecticide.
• Hairy-necked tiger beetle or beach-dune tiger beetle (Cicindela hirticollis rhodensis): Brownish tiger beetle with light markings, 12-15 mm long, black appendages, long white hairs on neck. Habitat: Lakeshore beaches. Threats: lake levels, public beach use, construction of breakwaters and riprap.
• Ottoe skipper (Hesperia Ottoe): Medium-sized butterfly, wingspan between 11/4 and 1 11/16 inches. Upper sides of wings are orange-brown. Habitat: Prairie grassland. Threat: Disappearing habitat.
• Upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda): Medium-sized shorebird with small head, dark, prominent eyes, long, thin neck, long tail and wings, yellow legs. Habitat: Pastures, idle grassland. Population estimated at 750-2,000. Threat: Early population declines due to hunting, in more recent years habitat disappearance from agriculture.
• Fawnsfoot (Truncilla donaciformis): Small, smooth-shelled freshwater mussel, up to 2 inches long. Dark green rays comprised of chevrons on the back half give a linear zigzag appearance to the shell.Habitat: Rivers, lakes. In Wisconsin, they have only been found in the Mississippi River and major tributaries. Threat: Zebra mussels, declining water quality.
• Prairie leafhopper (Attenuipyga vanduzeei): Females have reduced wings but are 15-18 mm long, larger than the fully winged males, which are 11-13 mm long. Both are tawny, but males are darker. The young are green. Habitat: Prairie. Threat: Loss of habitat.
• Robertson’s flightless planthopper, aka Fitch’s planthopper (Fitchiella robertsoni): Small beetle-like insect with beetle-like snout but more closely related to cicadas. Typically 3-5 mm long, with large, black-margined snout, short forewings, light grayish to olive brown body mottled with patches of blackish and brown, no hind wings.Habitat: In Wisconsin, only in the bluffs along the Mississippi River. Threat: Invasive non-native plants.


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