Why does North Dakota need a Wildlife Action Plan focused mainly on nongame species of conservation priority? Why should that be important to the state? In North Dakota, nongame wildlife, or those species which are typically not hunted or fished, represents more than 80 percent of the state's vertebrate fauna. More than 300 species of birds, roughly 80 species of mammals, about 75 fish, 15 reptiles, and 11 amphibians found in North Dakota are nongame. Freshwater mussels and insects are also considered nongame. Often they are the rarer and/or less studied species.
Nongame species represent an integral component in the balance of nature. Many of these species are on the decline or thought to be at risk. Preventing species from becoming endangered or lost is important. From an ecological perspective, loss of a seemingly insignificant species can cause other animals to decline, or vanish. Such declines are often hard to predict, as many of these relationships are not well understood. Even so, animals that live here are part of North Dakota's legacy, and any loss, many people believe, is tragic. In addition, a federally threatened or endangered species listing has the potential to influence how public and private land is managed and used. The cost of protection or restoration of a listed species is far greater than preventing its decline in the first place.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is funded almost exclusively by hunter and angler dollars so our focus is primarily on game or hunted/fished species. In 2002, state fish and wildlife agencies were provided funding under a new program called State Wildlife Grants, administered through the Department of Interior and related agencies. This funding provides the means for state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Game and Fish Department, to develop programs and plans for nongame or species of conservation priority. By accepting these funds, North Dakota and all other 49 states were required to complete a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy by October 1, 2005. The CWCS is now referred to as the Wildlife Action Plan. Congress had identified eight required elements to be included in the plans and must identify and focus on "species in greatest need of conservation," yet still address the "full array of wildlife." The Wildlife Action Plan promotes a comprehensive approach to habitat and wildlife management to leverage conservation of all species.
North Dakota's Wildlife Action Plan focuses on 100 species that are considered species of conservation priority. Information relating to the distribution, abundance, habitat requirements, threats, management goals and monitoring techniques for each of these species are required elements in the plan. Although information in association with Species of Conservation Priority drove the development of North Dakota's Wildlife Action Plan, it includes information on all wildlife. It is truly a comprehensive strategy.
North Dakota's Wildlife Action Plan was reviewed and approved by a team of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state game and fish agency personnel in early 2006. However, it is a dynamic document and maintaining it is an ongoing process. As new information is gathered, the Wildlife Action Plan will be updated to ensure we are making use of the best and most recent information for each species. We intend to conduct a full review of the entire Wildlife Action Plan by 2015. Although the plan will change over time the primary goal will stay the same: protect, conserve and enhance all of North Dakota's fish and wildlife for sustained public use and enjoyment.
- Teaming With Wildlife - The Teaming with Wildlife Coalition includes state fish and wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists, hunters, anglers, bird watchers, hikers, nature-based businesses and other conservationists who support the goal of restoring and conserving our nation's wildlife.
- State Wildlife Action Plans – State wildlife action plans outline the steps that are needed to conserve wildlife and habitat before they become more rare and more costly to protect. Taken as a whole, they present a national action agenda for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered.
North Dakota Wildlife Action Plan Contacts: