Taking Action for Wildlife

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Vermont ButterflyVERMONT – One aspect of Vermont that residents often take pride in is their wildlife. The new state Wildlife Action Plan was released this year, with the purpose of keeping the state’s nature thriving, so citizens can remain proud.

 Vermont receives $600,000 in federal grants to help conserve wildlife in the state. The Wildlife Action Plan serves as a sort of blueprint for conservation of all species, with the intent of protecting the species before they become rare, threatened or endangered.

“Many people helped write the plan, it was a team effort,” says main author, Jon Kart.

The previous plan was written in 2005, and now it has been updated and is currently in the process of being finalized. Director of Fisheries Eric Palmer says the 2005 plan did help many species, and restored their populations to a safe number.

“We have done a really good job with game species,” Palmer explains. “We have restored animals like deer, moose, bear, beaver, lake trout, brook trout, and land locked salmon. Specifically, the North Atlantic Salmon in the Connecticut River conservation program lasted for about 40 years. But the restoration has ended now, and those are no longer listed as a species of great conservation need.”

The Wildlife Action Plan lists species that are in danger, but also species that may need help down the road. This way, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife department can take preemptive measures before the species are in drastic need of help.

“We haven’t done a very good job as a country in bringing species back off of the federal endangered species list,” Palmer states. “Once they get to that point, there is so many challenges to recover them and it is really expensive and really difficult. But if you take steps to protect species while they are still common…that is in everybody’s benefit.”

Consequently, the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan includes entirely new species. Palmer believes the plan lists new species because it takes climate change into consideration, which was a threat Vermont Fish and Wildlife says they did not pay as much attention to ten years ago.

“We are dealing with a whole host of new species, everything from butterflies to shrews to fish,” Palmer says.

Luckily, the Northeast Kingdom has fewer species listed than other places around the state, meaning there more diversity and a healthier environment for wildlife. The NEK is also the ideal location for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife to monitor species and their habitat due to the amount of state owned land they can use freely. So over the next decade, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife may be visiting the Northeast Kingdom more often.