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Region 3.

Whooping Crane (Grus americana) The successful effort to reintroduce migratory whooping cranes to the eastern United States continued as 20 of the reintroduced whoopers migrated back to Wisconsin on their own from Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida during the spring of 2003. One crane stopped short of Wisconsin and staved in northern Illinois for the spring and summer, but most remained in and around Wisconsin for the summer. Though primarily staying ill the vicinity of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, they also demonstrated appropriate foraging and roosting behavior on a number of other state, federal, and private wetlands. Three juvenile female whoopers made their way to South Dakota. Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) biologists and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks staff mutually agreed that WCEP would retrieve the three birds and return them to Necedah Refuge in Wisconsin (the original reintroduction site). Unfortunately, one of the birds became stressed after it was retrieved and eventually had to be euthanized.

Sixteen whooping cranes that hatched at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Maryland) in the spring spent the summer training to follow behind ultralight aircraft. Those whooping cranes began their ultralight-led migration south to Chassahowitzka on October 16, 2003. We hope to add the 16 new cranes from this year's reintroduction to the 20 adult and juvenile whooping cranes from the 2001 and 2002 reintroductions.

Higgin's Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) As a result of a 2000 Biological Opinion that determined jeopardy for the Higgin's eve pearlymussel from operation and maintenance of the Army Corps of Engineer's Upper Mississippi River Nine-foot Channel Project, we are working with the Corps' on the Interagency Mussel Coordination Team to carry out conservation measures identified in the Biological Opinion. Those measures include genetic studies, mussel culture at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, culture in cages in the Upper Mississippi River and tributaries, stocking juvenile mussels, relocating adults, stocking fish inoculated with glochidia (parasitic mussel larvae), cleaning and stockpiling adult mussels, and survey/monitoring activities. Those activities are presented in the report "Saving the Higgins' Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) from Extinction: 2002 Status Report on the Accomplishments of the Mussel Coordination Team," found on the web at mct_2002_status_report.pdf

Recovery plans for the following listed species in Region 3 were completed and made public in September 2003:

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Destruction of habitat, disturbance, and increased predation rates are described as the main reasons for the endangered status of the Great Lakes population and continue to be the primary threats to its recovery. The remaining birds, whether on the breeding or wintering grounds, mostly inhabit public or undeveloped beaches. These populations are vulnerable to predation and disturbance.

Piping plovers nest on wide sand and cobble beaches with little vegetation and disturbance. These shore and dune areas also support a community of other rare plants and animals, including the threatened Pitcher's thistle, dwarf lake iris, and Houghton's goldenrod. Over the past decade. Great Lakes piping plovers have bred primarily in Michigan and Wisconsin, although occurrence during migration has been recorded in other Great Lakes states. During winter, these birds roost and forage on beaches, dunes, and sandy and muddy flats of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Public and private efforts to recover the plover are already underway. State and federal agencies and private citizens in Michigan and Wisconsin, and throughout the states where the birds over-winter, are working to protect habitat and manage land uses in areas where many of the piping plovers live.

Lake Erie Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) The Lake Erie water snake is a nonvenomous snake that lives only on the islands and in the waters of the western Lake Erie basin. The recovery plan is the result of several years of effort by scientists familiar with the water snake and its habitat. Most of the population decline can be attributed to intentional and accidental human-induced mortality. Habitat loss and degradation, such as occur through development of the snake's shoreline habitat with marinas and houses, are other significant threats. The recovery plan recommends monitoring the snake populations, implementing voluntary programs to manage both public and private land where the snake occurs, participating in outreach to ensure that visitors to Lake Erie islands are aware of the significance of this unique animal, and conducting research to ensure that major threats are alleviated.

Mead's Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) Mead's milkweed is a threatened plant found in eastern Kansas, Missouri, south-central Iowa, and southern Illinois. It has disappeared from Indiana and Wisconsin. The plants grow primarily ill tallgrass prairie, especially areas that have not been plowed and are only lightly grazed. Remaining patches of tallgrass prairie continue to be lost throughout the Midwest to agriculture and residential development. Recovery steps proposed in the plan include protection and management of habitat, identification of new populations or potential habitats for reintroduction, and research on restoration, management, and reintroduction techniques.

Tumbling Creek Cavesnail (Antrobia culveri) The Tumbling Creek cavesnail is found only in Tumbling Creek in Taney County, Missouri. The number of cavesnails has significantly decreased over the past few decades, and only a single individual was found within established survey areas between January 11, 2001, and April 22, 2003. However, a small population of approximately 40 individuals exists upstream of the area that is regularly surveyed. The primary cause for the cavesnail's decline appears to be decreased water quality due to increased erosion and pollution in the waters that feed the cave stream, although research is needed to confirm this. The plan recommends steps to protect habitat, monitor contaminants, conduct research on the species, and raise awareness of the cavesnail and its link to good water quality.
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Publication:Endangered Species Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:Rulemaking actions.
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