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Kirtland’s Warbler To Stay On Wisconsin’s Endangered Species List

Federal Proposal Could Reduce Protections Elsewhere

Kirtland's warbler
USFWSmidwest (CC BY)

A plan to remove the Kirtland’s warbler from the federal endangered species list would not affect protections for the bird in Wisconsin, but could possibly affect its habitat in the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that the population of the Kirtland’s warbler has rebounded in the state of Michigan, where the bird is mainly found, to the point where the agency is proposing to take the warbler off the endangered species list.

But according to the Wisconsin DNR, maybe less than 100 Kirtland’s warblers spend summers here, mostly in Adams County. So no matter what happens with the federal delisting proposal, the warbler is staying on the state endangered species list, said DNR’s Davin Lopez.

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Killing or harassing the bird would remain illegal, Lopez said.

“They’d still be protected from direct take, obviously, and disturbances — whether that be from construction or whatever during the summer season when the bird is present in Wisconsin.”

Lopez says federal delisting could affect the areas of jack pine where the warbler lives. But he said much of that is protected though public ownership or private easements.

Efforts are also continuing to try to increase the number of Kirtland’s warblers in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin has a very young population of the species. So for us, I mean, there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re very critical in terms of expanding the habitat. You never want all your population in one area, and the bulk of the population is in the lower Michigan area,” Lopez said.

Besides Adams County, the birds have also been seen in Marinette and Bayfield counties. Last year, the DNR planted a 125-acre jack pine stand near the Brule River in Douglas County to encourage the warblers to breed there.