The Center for Humane Studies and the B. A. in Animal Studies program are currently featuring protected species of Michigan. Every month a different species is presented to raise awareness of the need for continued conservation efforts in our State. To learn more about our related academic programs, see below.
Hine's Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) is the only dragonfly listed as an endangered species. Michigan is one of the few states that have some isolated populations.
Hine's emerald dragonflies have slender, metallic bodies with green, brown, or black coloring. Two distinct yellow lateral strips mark their thorax and fade into white as the dragonflies age. A brilliant, emerald-green color covers their enormous eyes, which possess almost 360-degree peripheral vision.
The most significant threats to the Hine's emerald dragonfly include habitat destruction, urban sprawl, off-road vehicles, agricultural development, road and pipeline construction, logging, and groundwater contamination from pesticides and other contaminants.
Source: Center for Biological Diversity
The Blanding’s turtle is a species of special concern in Michigan. The Detroit Zoological Society participates in a head-starting program for Blanding’s turtles, a native Michigan species. Female turtles are brought to the Zoo, where they lay eggs, then returned to their natural habitat. The eggs are cared for until they hatch and the young turtles are about a year old, then they are returned to the wild. There are many predators of young turtles, so this helps the species’ population increase and stabilize.
You can help:
If you see a turtle trying to cross the road, consider stopping to help him or her cross, but only if it’s safe to do so. Always move a turtle in the direction they are already heading, even if it’s away from the water. If you see turtles crossing at the same place every year, advocate to have signage put up to warn drivers to be on the lookout!
The Kirtland’s warbler is Michigan’s most unique bird because it breeds nowhere else in the world and is listed as a federally endangered species. Breeding is restricted to jack pine forests between about 6 and 20 years of age in the north central Lower Peninsula, largely within the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Source: Bird Watcher Digest
Lake sturgeon are a unique fish species in Michigan. They are an important biological component of the Great Lakes fish community. Lake sturgeon can grow to weights of up to 200 pounds and lengths of seven feet, with females being longer and heavier than males. Their typical lifespan is 55 years for males and 70 to 100 years for females.
Lake sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in Michigan. Commercial fishing of lake sturgeon is currently prohibited in Michigan and sport fishing is closely regulated. There are many specific regulations for recreational fishing for lake sturgeon in Michigan.
Source: Michigan DNR
Since they are nocturnal species, few of us get to see fascinating flying squirrels as they glide distances up to 50 feet between trees in our neighborhoods. Michigan has two species of flying squirrels, Northern and Southern, the latter can be seen in south-east Michigan. While neither is endangered, the former is considered a species of concern, as its numbers have recently decreased due to climate change. They are very important environmentally, as their diet and habits support the relationship between fungi and trees, which is crucial for forests to thrive. If you hang a nesting box on a tree or watch your birdfeeder at night with infrared light, you may be rewarded with a very cool view of a flying squirrel.
Source: Peter D. Weigl, The Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus): a Conservation Challenge, in Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 88, Issue 4, 20 August 2007, Pages 897–907
As climate warms, northern flying squirrels are moving out of the Northland [Yahoo! News]
Photo source: Outdoor Nebraska