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4 animals native to MN – including this turtle – may get federal protection

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Four animals native to Minnesota are being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is looking at the wood turtle, regal fritillary (a butterfly), northern bog lemming and rusty-patched bumble bee – which MinnPost says aren't particularly well-known – to see if they are endangered, a news release says.

The status review comes in response to various petitions seeking to protect dozens of species under the act, the wildlife service says.

Wood turtle

Wood turtles inhabit streams, woodland bogs and marshy pastures in Minnesota and other northern states, the USFWS says. The turtles have a range from Ontario east to Nova Scotia, and south from northern Iowa to northern Virginia, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says.

Habitat degradation and destruction, along with illegal collecting and increased mortality from road kills have affected wood turtle populations throughout the country, the DNR notes.

Regal fritillary

Regal fritillary – a large orange and black butterfly that's sometimes mistaken for a monarch – is found in grasslands and prairies from eastern Colorado to the East Coast, including Minnesota.

As a caterpillar, the fritillary only eats violets, the wildlife service says.

The butterfly is strongly associated with native prairie habitat, and in Minnesota, less than 1 percent of such prairie habitat remains, the DNR notes.

Rusty-patched bumble bee

Rusty-patched bumble bees were common in the Upper Midwest (including Minnesota) to the East Coast, but in recent years its population has declined by 95 percent, the wildlife service says.

The bee relies on a supply of flowers that bloom from April to September.

Northern bog lemming

The northern bog lemming is found in sphagnum bogs, wet subalpine meadows and mossy forests in northern states, including Minnesota, the USFWS says.

The lemming is "unpredictable in occurrence and nowhere is it considered common," the DNR says. It has been labeled a species of concern in Minnesota since 1984 due to how rare it is in the state.

What happens next

Once the wildlife service assesses these animals, it will determine if an endangered or threatened status is warranted under the Endangered Species Act.

The USFWS is asking for information on the animals, which can be submitted through Nov. 17.

There are hundreds of animals, plants and insects native to Minnesota that are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern, the USFWS website shows.

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