Sep 1, 2022 - News

Turtle may soon be named threatened species in Michigan

A turtle sits amid some leaves.
Eastern box turtle. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

We're worried about the eastern box turtle.

What's happening: Michigan's only true land turtle — found mostly in western and south-central Michigan, plus Oakland and Washtenaw counties — may soon be dubbed a threatened species by the state.

  • The Department of Natural Resources is proposing changes to its list of legally protected endangered and threatened species. It's the sixth update since 1974.

Zoom in: Experts also want to reclassify the copper-bellied water snake and long-eared owl as endangered, among others.

  • In good news, they want to down-list peregrine falcons from endangered to merely threatened.

Be smart: Plants and animals designated "endangered" are rare and could soon become extinct. "Threatened" species are "likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future," the EPA says.

Of note: Eastern box turtles are common in the U.S., but in Michigan they've been on the decline for 20 years, per the National Wildlife Federation.

  • Reasons include habitat loss and the illegal pet trade, DNR endangered species specialist Jennifer Kleitch tells Axios in an email.

What's next: The public can weigh in on the proposed changes, viewable here, through Sept. 30.

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