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DNR holds hearing on endangered species  

Credit:  John Weiss | January 30, 2013 | www.postbulletin.com ~~

Mike Pappas is concerned that the state is moving too fast in lowering legal protection for snapping and wood turtles.

Mary Brickzin-Gale and Rochelle Nygaard fear that a large wind farm in Goodhue County will kill bald eagles and trumpeter swans.

Konrad Schmidt worries bluntnose darters and hornyhead chubs aren’t getting the attention, and legal protection, they need.

Maureen Hackett is exasperated that the state has taken the timber wolf off the list of threatened, endangered or special concern species.

From the unknown to the famous, from north to south, from the very local issues to global, people were eager to speak out Tuesday at a hearing Tuesday on updating the state’s list of plants and animals that need help, or are getting better and can be upgraded or taken off the list.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Department of Natural Resources is proposing to change its list of endangered, threatened or special concern species. It wants to take 15 plants and 14 animals from the list but add 67 animals and 114 plants.

It scheduled five hearings across the state to get testimony on that proposal; the first was Tuesday in Rochester.

Only about 15 people attended but most spoke up. Each had a particular species or a few of them they wanted changed on the list. And many worried that the DNR isn’t looking enough at global climate change and how it’s affecting species.

Pappas of Rochester, an expert on turtles, said snapping and wood turtles should have more protection because they are being overharvested and don’t reproduce quickly. The DNR says it won’t give out any more licenses to trap and as the number of trappers drops, turtle numbers will rise.

That’s not good enough, Pappas said. The DNR needs to cut down or cut out trapping. And it needs to do more to study them. “If they had feathers or fur, we would look into it,” he said.

Brickzin-Gale and Nygaard, both of Goodhue County, are opposed to the proposed wind farm in that county in part because bald eagles and trumpeter swans migrate through there and could be killed by the spinning blades. “I don’t think it’s good to turn your back on the American eagle,” Brickzin-Gale said.

Schmidt of St. Paul, a former DNR non-game specialist got very particular about obscure fish such as the bluntnose darter, which the DNR says should be listed as special concern but he wants classified as endangered.

On the other hand, the pugnose shiner is proposed as threatened but it should be special concern, Schmidt said.

And Hackett of Hopkins, representing Howling for Wolves, strongly criticized taking wolves off the list completely and allowing a limited trapping/hunting season. We don’t know enough about them, how they will respond, how many there are. The DNR only has limited data, “very basic estimates” to go on, she said.

Rich Baker, DNR endangered species coordinator, said that the DNR doesn’t look in-depth at all the species, and can’t do it as often as it would like or the law requires, because it doesn’t have enough people or money.

When it comes to eagles, he said they are doing very well across the state and that is where the list looks, not at smaller places where there might be a problem, such as with the Goodhue wind farm.

Jaime Edwards, regional non-game specialist, said the DNR will look at smaller areas if that’s the only place a species is found.

Finally, Baker said they do factor in global climate change for species such as lynx or moose that need cold and snow, but for most species “it’s not the sole driver.”

Source:  John Weiss | January 30, 2013 | www.postbulletin.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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