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State updates list of endangered, threatened species

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued a once-in-a-generation updating of the state's list of species considered endangered, threatened or of special concern.

The Star Tribune reports that the sweeping changes represent the first time in 17 years that the state has made revisions to the list. The state list was first established nearly three decades ago.

The bald eagle, the gray wolf and the snapping turtle are among the 29 species were removed from the endangered category. Those animals are now ranked 'of special concern,' the lowest rating on the list. An endangered species is one that is at great risk of extinction within the state. No mammals were added to the endangered category, but seven species of birds were. Among them are two types of sparrows and a burrowing owl. Also newly listed as endangered are the northern cricket frog and the massasauga, a venomous rattlesnake. The paddlefish, along with five additional species of butterflies and moths, were also put on the endangered list.

In all, there are 180 species of plants and animals that are newly added to one of the three categories, while 91 species had their status either upgraded or downgraded while remaining on the list.

KMSP reports that the list was first crafted in 1984 to protect plants and animals at risk of extinction. State law dictates the DNR must periodically update the list based on information acquired from biological surveys.
The revisions followed extensive input, including five public hearings that were held in Rochester, New Ulm, Bemidji, Duluth and Plymouth in January and February. The DNR also opened an 86-day comment period and a review by an administrative law judge.

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