Endangered Species List Updated for 1st Time in 17 Years

Updated: 08/20/2013 7:13 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson/Jay Kolls

Photo: Image: MGN Online

The Department of Natural Resources is updating its endangered species list for the first time since 1996.

Some animals, including the bald eagle, were taken off the list. Other animals like the purple martin were added. 

The list hadn't been updated in 17 years. Within that period, the DNR was gathering information, processing the material, analyzing the data and deciding what they were going to change.

A KSTP crew spoke with Sharon Stiteler as she watched a peregrine falcon perched on a ledge, feeding on a bird. "This is amazing I love seeing peregrine falcons, it's the fastest bird on the planet."

Now the bird has a new rating in the state of Minnesota, special concern status, upgraded from threatened. "This is a testament to how we are doing things right in Minnesota. In taking care of the river and making sure there's habitat for these birds," said Stiteler.

Twenty-nine species, including the wolf, were removed from the endangered list. The DNR says 180 species of plants and animals were added and 91 species had their status either upgraded or downgraded.
"The bulk of the reason is about two-thirds of the species changing are because of new information. About 10 percent is because of the impact of invasive species. And then about two-thirds are the result of a loss of habitat," Rich Baker of the DNR said.

For example, half of the state's 50 species of fresh water mussels are now either endangered or threatened. That's mostly because of zebra mussels. Then there's the purple martin bird, it's not doing well so it has earned special concern status. But, Baker says, the good news is those species that have been upgraded, or taken off the endangered list entirely, means they are thriving and recovery programs have worked. On the down side, moose have been been added to the "special concern" status, but no decision has been made on whether the moose hunt will be modified just yet.

Stiteler says it's good that the update finally came. She says it gives the state a baseline. "It's good we have this information now before it's too late. So we can keep those good bug eaters like the purple martins."