Minnesota to Add 180 Species to Endangered List

Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced its decision to add 180 animals and plants to its endangered species list as state scientists undergo their first official update in 17 years. The department noted that progress had been to remove 29 species from the list, including the bald eagle, the gray wolf and snapping turtle, but more landscape wide solutions need to be implemented to counteract the loss of prairie habitat, the surge of invasive pests, and harmful impacts from pollution.

The state legislature passed Minnesota's Endangered and Threatened Species law in 1971. Since that time some 590 species near or threatened with extinction have come on the state's list. Critics of the federal Endangered Species Act note that since the passage of the law only 28 species, or roughly 1% of all listed species, have been successfully removed or de-listed. Supporters, however, point out that many species take several decades to naturally recover and the majority of the species on the list are meeting their federal recovery plan goals. For example, the Florida panther has been on the ESA list for nearly 40 years but its approved recovery plan is over 100 years in duration.

The decision by the agency to update the state's endangered species list came after five public meetings, an 86-day comment period and review by an administrative law judge. Richard Baker, endangered species coordinator for the Minnesota DNR was quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "We’ve got to learn how to manage at a larger scale.The strategy of trying to save one species at a time will no longer work.. The new list shows that bigger solutions, such as maintaining broad swaths of forest and grassland, will be critical for the survival of not only those on the list but many others."

There are three categories of species classified by the state for its endangered list:

  • Endangered - if the species is threatened with extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range within Minnesota;
  • Threatened - if the species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range within Minnesota; and
  • Species of Concern - although the species is not endangered or threatened, it is extremely uncommon in Minnesota, or has unique or highly specific habitat requirements and deserves careful monitoring of its status.

For a complete list of Minnesota's endangered, threatened, or species of concern please click here.