Montana – Federal List for Endangered and Threatened
These are commemorative plates for the endangered and threatened species in Montana. My intent in this project is to make something ‘unseen’ to be ‘seen’ in effort to educate and support the repopulation of species in peril. Each plate depicts a species that is federally listed that lives in Montana. The casual line drawing of the species captures the character of the species, and it is surrounded by reflective silver luster in which the viewer can see their own reflection. The three delisted species in Montana are surrounded in gold. On the back of each plate there is an essay about the species, why it is having trouble ad what an average person could do to help the continued survival of this species.
There is hope for repopulating species in Montana on account of the good works of the US Fish & Wildlife, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, US Forrest Agency, Non for Profit Environmental Agencies (such as the Nature Conservancy, Five Valley Land trust, to name a few) generally thoughtful public behavior and conscientious private land owners.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA; 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) was passed in the 1970s, and was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a “consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation”, the ESA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973. The U.S. Supreme Court found that “the plain intent of Congress in enacting” the ESA “was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.” The Act is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1967
As the tallest bird in North America, the magnificent whooping crane stands out from its counterparts at five feet tall with a wingspan of seven or more feet. Their distinctive call carries across the land for several miles, and they remain one of only two cranes found in North America. Due to increased human settlement, agriculture, hunting, and disease, the whooping crane has suffered major population decline and was classified as endangered in 1967. Their biology also makes it difficult for them to increase their numbers, reaching sexual maturity at age four or five and typically laying only two eggs every two or three years.
Additionally, the whooping crane partakes in a long and arduous migration between Canada and Texas. They stop in eastern Montana during both the spring and fall, and have been found in the Medicine Lake and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife refuges. The whooping crane’s migration exposes them to a plethora of hazards including disease, predation, illegal shooting, and collision with man-made obstacles such as powerlines. Marker balls, swinging markers, and bird flight diverters can help increase the visibility of these overhead wires. The Migratory Bird Act was established to make it unlawful to hunt, capture, kill, or sell birds listed as migratory birds, and it is important to educate the public on the impacts of such activities. Despite the odds, both government agencies and non-profit organizations have combined forces and established the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team and the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership to protect these rare, masterful aviators.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1972
The water-loving least tern measures only 8 to 9 inches, making it the smallest in North America. Nesting in small colonies on barren sandbars along rivers, shorelines, and sand or gravel pits, the least tern can be found hovering above water and diving down to catch small fish. While populations along the East and West coasts are thriving, the interior populations are endangered and were listed in 1985.
Because the least tern relies on water sources for survival, man-made impacts on the natural flow of rivers and streams has left these birds helpless. Dams, reservoirs, and water diversion as well as recreational water activities have all significantly altered the small birds’ habitat. By advocating for sustainable river management and protecting nesting and migration habitats, the least tern may once again find refuge on the banks of our rivers. Switching to non-toxic lawn care products and eco-friendly or homemade household cleaners, recycling used car oil, and disposing of toxic chemicals and paints properly can help protect the quality of water that is essential to the health and wellbeing of these birds.
Ursus arctos horribilis
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened in 1975
This powerful woodland mammal thrives in the coniferous forests of Western Montana, specifically around the Bitterroot, Flathead, Kootenai, Lolo, and Deerlodge national forests. Boasting tremendous size and weight of up to 800 pounds and 8 feet tall, grizzlies are the largest omnivore in North America. Their most identifiable trait is the large hump on their shoulders. This powerful muscle is used in many of their daily routines, specifically digging- an activity they do more than any other bear species. Due to their remarkable expansion in the Yellowstone ecosystem, efforts to increase connectivity to areas outside Yellowstone are essential for further restoration. However, there has been a controversial decision to delist them which means hunting may resume outside national parks.
Rising temperatures are another large threat to the grizzly, pushing their hibernation season later into the fall. This is a time when hunters, hikers, and campers frequently visit the woods, and many grizzly deaths occur at this time due to self-defense. The changing climate also impacts food sources for grizzlies, who are then forced to leave remote elevations for lower areas full of alternative food sources such as garbage and livestock. To avoid confrontations with grizzlies, remove any tasty temptations from your campsite or yard. Keeping trash indoors until the day of pickup, and investing in bear-resistant garbage cans can also alleviate unexpected run-ins. Be sure to check with rangers or authorities about the latest bear incidents when venturing into the woods, and learn to detect signs of recent bear activity. Learning to share the land with grizzlies responsibly will alleviate any fatalities. Your efforts combined with those of conservation groups make it possible to contribute to the recovery of these magnificent mammals.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1978, Delisted 2007
In August of 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the federal list of Threatened and Endangered Species in Montana and most of the rest of the continental United States. Montana currently supports over 500 active bald eagle territories in the state, which far surpasses both the recovery goal of 99 breeding pairs cited in the 1986 Bald Eagle Recovery Plan. In 1978 there were 12 known breeding pairs of bald eagles in the state.
Currently, Bald Eagles continue to receive protection from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These federal regulations protect eagles from direct persecution and human disturbance that could cause nest abandonment or reproductive failure. The Bald Eagle is clearly a conservation success story. However, increases in human population growth and development may still threaten bald eagle nesting, foraging and roosting habitat. The Montana Bald Eagle Working Group, formed in 1982 and composed of representatives from federal and state agencies, tribes, universities, conservation groups, and private industry, continues to monitor nesting and wintering bald eagles across the state and cooperates with the federal post-delisting monitoring strategy that calls for monitoring every 5 years between 2009 and 2029.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1979
This small member of the weasel family weighs in at only two pounds and measures two feet long. In the early 1900s, the United States was likely home to more than five million ferrets, but it is now one of the rarest and most endangered mammals in North America. The black-footed ferret resides in grasslands of eastern Montana, specifically in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. They are dependent on prairie dogs for survival, finding shelter in their burrows and eating them for sustenance.
Because of agricultural developments and the introduction of rodenticides in the early 20th century, prairie dog populations were nearly wiped out and negatively affected the population of black-footed ferrets, bringing them to the brink of extinction. Fortunately for this small critter, it is estimated that there are about 1,410 black-footed ferrets living in the wild now, and Montana has a goal to reestablish two populations with 50 breeding adults in each. The National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center, BFF Recovery Implementation Team, and Black-Footed Ferret Friends are groups dedicated specifically to this species. By donating to these organizations, protecting our natural grasslands, and limiting the use of harmful agricultural chemicals you can help ensure the survival of these small, black-masked predators.
Gulo gulo luscus
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Candidate (contested) Threatened 1981
Nicknamed “skunk bear” and a larger cousin to weasels, otters, and mink, the wolverine is a master digger and climber thanks to its disproportionately gigantic paws that have five toes and curved claws. This also allows them to cunningly navigate through deep snow, and their bushy water-repellent coat keeps them dry while they travel long distances through remote and inhospitable forest elevations. Located in the rugged conditions of western Montana, the wolverine is known to prey on animals as large as moose and steal the kill of mountain lions, bears, and wolves.
Habitat fragmentation caused by infrastructure development, transportation, and land managements reduces the connectivity between the lower 48 states, Alaska, and Canada. Rising temperatures are another threat to this species, who rely on snowbound habitats to raise their young. Prized for their coats and symbolism of the wild North American Rockies, the wolverine often falls prey to illegal trapping which is detrimental to their population and warrants arrest. To help with this, you can post signs that prohibit trapping on your land, and contact your local ‘Turn In Poachers’ hotline if you witness illegal activity. Unfortunately, the wolverine is not yet protected under the Endangered Species Act, but is currently on the proposed list to be categorized as threatened which is a large step in the right direction.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 1985
Named for its melodic whistle, the piping plover is a treasure of North America. Often moving along the ground instead of flying, the birds blend in with their sand-colored plumage. In Montana, the piping plover can be found in the northeast corner of the state, arriving in early May and leaving by late August. They nest along lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, leaving them vulnerable to human interference and increased foot traffic.
The largest threat for the piping plover is off-road vehicles which crush and kill the nests and birds. Hatchlings are often placed in the direct line of fire as they make their pilgrimages towards food. To prevent these fatalities, respect posted signs designating precious habitat and be aware of your surroundings as you enjoy a day on the shore. Advocating for the protection and safe development of shorelines and surrounding areas will help to avoid further disruptions, and joining campaigns such as World Migratory Bird Day can help bring awareness to the importance of this lyrical shoreline bird.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1990
With a dinosaur-like appearance, the magnificent pallid sturgeon can weigh up to 80 pounds and reach 6 feet in length. These bottom dwellers feed primarily on small fish and aquatic insects and can live as long as 50 years. However, due to changes in water flow through river channelization and construction of impoundments, this has ceased to be the case. Listed as endangered in 1990, the pallid sturgeon has seen a reduction in food sources, destroyed spawning areas, and blockages in water movement along the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. As resilient as they may be, these colossal fish are no match for the man-made detriments to their habitats.
Increased efforts are being made to improve the quality of life for the pallid sturgeon. A self-sustaining population can only be possible through the restoration of river flows, connectivity, temperatures, and turbidity in which the fish thrives. Artificial propagation is used to help recover populations through spawning and raising pallid sturgeon in a safe environment. The Pallid Sturgeon Propagation and Population Augmentation Program utilizes six hatcheries throughout the United States, including the Miles City Hatchery and the Bozeman Fish Technology Center in Montana. These hatcheries, along with the combined efforts to restore the ecosystem help insure that the pallid sturgeon remains part of Montana’s wildlife legacy.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 1992
The Ute ladies’-tresses is a perennial orchid which blooms in a gradual spiral with a faint, vanilla-like scent. This hardy plant has adapted to growing in a variety of locations including meadows, lakeshores, gravel pits, reservoirs, irrigated canals, and other human-modified wetlands. The plant is sequestered in the southwest corner of Montana between Helena, Bozeman, and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest along the Missouri, Jefferson, Beaverhead, Ruby, and Madison rivers.
This rare orchid suffers from habitat destruction caused by urbanization, water development, agriculture, herbicides, and weed invasion. Most populations of this plant occur on private land, so it is important to learn about the various species of endangered and native plants in your area. Protecting this lucious perennial from irrigation, plowing, mowing, and cattle is critical. When using herbicides and pesticides, make sure they are non-toxic to avoid harm to other plants. The Native Plant Conservation Campaign is an organization working to conserve native plants and their habitats, and is a great way to get involved and learn about protecting endangered species on your property. It will be through careful and generous stewardship of private landowners that this species will repopulate in significant numbers.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1994
The ancient white sturgeon has survived for more than 200 million years, which is evident in fossils discovered with those of dinosaurs. This landlocked species is found within 30 miles of the Kootenai River and remains the largest freshwater fish in North America, reaching lengths or nearly 20 feet and living up to 100 years. Unfortunately, the white sturgeon began declining in numbers since the 1950s as water quality deteriorated due to pollution and the loss of prosperous habitats for breeding young fry. In 1994, the Kootenai River white sturgeon was listed as endangered. The construction of Libby Dam in 1972 played a large role in this, impacting biological production through changes in water temperature and natural river fluctuations.
Fish are being forced to spawn in sandy areas where the vulnerable eggs become encased in sand and perish as they drift downriver. Fortunately, vast numbers of fragile eggs have been reared in facilities like the Kootenai Tribal Sturgeon Hatchery, which ensures their survival and release into the river once again. The hatching of healthy white sturgeon fry is part of the Kootenai River White Sturgeon Recovery Plan, which is also focusing on changing water flow conditions to improve natural spawning habitat. Fishing for sturgeon has also become illegal in Montana, allowing the fish to safely navigate the river. By supporting local hatcheries and efforts to maintain ecologically healthy habitats for the white sturgeon, this relic of Montana’s natural heritage may once again populate our waterways.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 1994
The water howellia is an annual aquatic plant in the bellflower family that grows anywhere from 4-24 inches high with extensive branches and stems. They can be found in shallow water or around the edges of deep ponds in the Swan Valley of western Montana. The small, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in May and June and are either white or light purple in color.
These precious blooms are threatened by a large number of human-related factors that impact their natural habitats. These include livestock grazing, road construction, logging, and urbanization. By fencing off waterways from cattle and supporting the conservation of wetlands, this delicate species will be able to reclaim its original habitat. Research into effective methods of propagation, habitat enhancement, and reintroduction into the wild will help further direct the expansion of this species.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 1998
Rivers, lakes, and streams of the northwest are home for this Montana native. Found specifically in the Flathead, Clark Fork, Kootenai, and St. Mary river basins, bull trout are a sensitive species that can only thrive in cold water temperatures with low levels of sediment and overhead cover to hide from predators. Some prefer to stay comfortably in a single stream their entire lives, while others prefer a life of adventure and migrate more than 150 miles in response to environmental changes and cues to reproduce.
Bull trout have experienced a decline in population caused by habitat loss and isolation due to the Milltown dam and other barriers. Non-native fish such as the brook trout have also begun to replace the declining bull trout. The discovery of copper sulfide brought mining and smelting to the Clark Fork river in Montana, creating a build-up of sediments that make survival difficult to the bull trout. The Clark Fork Coalition has fought to combat this through the protection and restoration of water quality in the Clark Fork. But possibly the greatest threat is poaching and misidentification. To combat this, the state of Montana has developed a bull trout restoration plan which has made subtle but positive progress towards the restoration of this species’ population. If you plan to go fishing in the Montana area, be sure to check out the Bull Trout Identification and Education page as well as bull trout fishing regulations on the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks website to ensure the safety of these native gems.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Listed 1964, Delisted 1999
Peregrine falcons were historically found throughout North America in mountain ranges, coastlines and river valleys. Like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon populations plummeted in the 1940 – 1960’s because of the widespread use of DDT and other pesticides. On August 20, 1999 the peregrine falcon was removed from the federal list of Threatened and Endangered Species. The recovery effort began in 1970 and included release of over 6,000 captive-bred falcons in 34 states; over 600 of these birds were released in Montana. In the mid-1980’s there were no known breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in Montana. By 1994 recovery efforts had resulted in 13 known breeding pairs. Currently, there are over 90 known breeding pairs in the state.
With the banning of DDT in 1972, falconers and biologists joined forces to initiate one of the most successful captive-rearing programs. Juvenile peregrines were released into the wild through a process called hacking that allows young birds to acclimatize to their environment gradually without becoming accustomed to humans. Clearly a conservation success story, the peregrine falcon once again graces the mountains of Montana. Through the leadership of the Montana Peregrine Institute, the Montana Peregrine Falcon Working Group continues to monitor nesting peregrine falcons in Montana. Our state monitoring program is conducted in cooperation with the federal post-delisting monitoring strategy for peregrines that calls for surveys every 3 years.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 2000
This elusive feline is twice the size of a domestic house cat with long legs and massive paws, making it a skilled hunter in the snow. They are known to enjoy a solitary life, and can found in areas of high elevation in western Montana. Lynx have long been coveted for their soft and thick fur, causing their numbers to decrease due to hunting and trapping. Although this has been illegal for the lynx since 2015, they are often caught in traps set for other animals. Using alternative methods on your property such as cage trapping will ensure that if accidentally caught, the lynx are able to be released without any harm.
The largest sources of concern for these majestic cats are habitat loss and human-related issues such as logging, mining, winter recreation, and housing or road development which encroach on their natural habitat. Rising temperatures and forest fires are another huge threat to the lynx, who depend on deep snow to raise their young and hunt for food. By joining and supporting groups such as the Biological Center for Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, you can help preserve the habitat and wellbeing of this wild feline.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Endangered 1974, Delisted in 2011
In the early 1900s primarily due to conflicts with people the Gray Wolf population decreased and they were listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1967. Gray Wolves started recolonizing the area around Glacier National Park in 1979 and the first den documented in Montana in over 50 years was found in Glacier National Park in 1986. In 1995 and 1996 Gray Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. Gray wolves reached biological recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains at the end of 2002 and were delisted in May of 2009. However, they were relisted as Endangered/Experimental Nonessential on August 5, 2010 by federal court order. Then, on May 5, 2011, they were again removed from the Endangered Species Act by the Secretary of the Interior at the direction of the President Barack Obama and Congress.
Montana was authorized to manage wolves under the state federally approved Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Currently at least 1,650 wolves live in the region, where wolves can travel about freely to join existing packs or form new packs. This, combined with wolf populations in Canada and Alaska, assures genetic diversity. At least 566 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2010 in about 108 packs, 35 of which were breeding pairs. To avoid relisting, Montana will comply with federal regulations to manage wolves in a manner that will guarantee that the state maintains at least a minimum of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is the lead agency for Gray Wolves, including population monitoring, resolving wolf-livestock conflicts, research, and public outreach.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 2001
Also known as the catchfly, these perennials are unique for their sticky foliage and lobed petals that create a bell-like shape. They exist in only a few locations of the northwest corner in Montana, including the Tobacco Plains and Niarada areas, Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, and on Wild Horse Island. The catchfly prefers to blossom in the open grasslands of valleys and foothills, occasionally keeping company with scattered ponderosa pines and shrubs.
Invasive weeds such as the spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, and yellow starthistle are the most common threat to the spalding’s campion. These invasive plants are spread by livestock, pets, people, wildlife, and vehicles. It is important to treat these invasive plants with organic weed control products, wash undercarriages of vehicles to remove seeds, and feed livestock weed free hay to eliminate the spread of weeds. When walking through the catchfly’s habitat, stay on designated trails and be aware of your steps. Getting involved with groups such as the Montana Discovery Foundation is a great way to spread awareness of this threatened species and contribute to the community education of native plants like this one.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Candidate (contested), Threatened 2011
Found in the forested areas of central and western Montana in high elevations, these hardy conifers are resilient to strong winds, sterile soil, and exposed slopes. Their gnarled and twisted trunks are often proof of this. They are named for their bark which is polished and pale gray, and their needles are smooth and rigid. The seeds of the whitebark pine are a favorite snack for grizzlies, often comprising 40 percent of the bear’s diet and establishing a direct correlation between pine and grizzly survival.
Although able to withstand harsh conditions, the whitebark has faced serious decline due to mountain pine beetles and white pine blister rust which prevents young saplings from producing seeds. Rising temperatures have allowed these beetles to thrive, but researchers are currently working on a pheromone repellent called verbenone that protects the trees against these vicious beetles. Getting involved with groups such as the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation or American Forests is an effective way to support the wellbeing of this species. Locally in Montana, the Prickly Pear Land Trust is dedicated to preserving and protecting public land through conservation projects, and volunteering time, money, or land ensures that they are able to continue to protect native wildlife like the whitebark pine.
Calidris canutus rufa
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 2013
Boasting a brilliant sherbet orange belly, these colorful birds have enough stamina to travel 9,300 miles each year from the Arctic to southern South America, making the occasional pit stop on shorelines in Montana. Only 50 sightings have occurred in Montana so far, with 60 percent happening in May during a northward migration. These stopovers have been documented at Freezeout Lake, Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, and Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the largest threats to the red knot is a lack of horseshoe crab eggs at Delaware Bay. This area is one of the largest fueling destinations during this bird’s migration. The eggs, which are full of protein for the long journey, have been diminishing due to overfishing. The decline in crab population has a direct impact on the red knots. Protection of wetlands in Montana will ensure the piping plover has a safe habitat to rest and refuel. Thankfully, due to efforts of environmental groups such as Defenders of Wildlife, the red knot gained protection under the Endangered Species Act and will continue to receive further guardianship to enable recovery.
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 2014
These slender, long-tailed birds are masters of disguise. Hiding among the trees they sit perfectly still and hunch down to conceal their crisp white bellies. Among the few species to eat hairy caterpillars, these small birds can gorge themselves on as many as 100 in a single sitting. Although they winter in South America, come spring these birds make the long and arduous journey north and can be found in the southern half of Montana.
Flocks migrating across western states are struggling due to the channelizing of rivers, dams that change traditional water patterns, and grazing livestock that have reduced forests along stream beds where cuckoos like to congregate. The repopulation of this species depends heavily on the generosity of private land owners. Fencing off parts of waterways along grazing lands and limiting urban and agricultural developments will eliminate encroachment into critical habitat for the cuckoo. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Conservation Fund supports the preservation of wetlands and is a positive way to assist the recovery of this species.
Northern Long-eared Bat
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Threatened 2015
As the name gives away, this medium-sized bat stands out from its relatives thanks to its long ears. More solitary in its hibernating habits than most other bats, these bats prefer to curl up in tight crevices with only the tips of its ears peeking out. They can be found in wooded hillsides and ridgelines of eastern Montana, specifically in Richland County. Unfortunately, the long-eared bat has faced similar adversity as other bat species. White-nose syndrome is the leading cause of bat population decline, and for the long-eared species nearly 99 percent of their population has been wiped out because of it. This disease infects caves where the bats hibernate, and scientists have yet to find a cause or cure.
Forest fragmentation, mining, logging, pesticides, and agricultural developments are additional threats to this forest-dwelling creature. Bats are not only an integral part of our ecosystem, but they provide a significant service to humans by providing free pest-control services to U.S. agriculture. To help protect the long-eared bat, respect signs posted at cave entrances and don’t go directly from one cave to another as this spreads the white-nose disease. You can also provide shelter for these furry creatures by leaving dead trees on your property if possible and building bat boxes, especially during April to August when females are looking for a safe place to raise their pups. For more information, check out The Organization for Bat Conservation and the Bat Conservation International.
Western Glacier Stonefly
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Proposed as Threatened 2016
The western glacier stonefly thrives in frigid waters with a high oxygen content. Found in the Glacier and Carbon counties of Montana, these water-loving bugs live most of their lives as a larva, requiring an entire year to develop. Being extremely sensitive to changes in water quality makes them excellent indicators of the health of their freshwater habitats. By forming the base of the food chain and decomposing organic matter such as leaves, they play a critical role in the aquatic ecosystem.
Primary threats for this teeny bug include loss of glaciers and snowfields, and changes in water temperature and stream flow due to shifts in climate. However, there is still hope for the western glacier stonefly. The Center for Biological Diversity and other nonprofit organizations are working hard to place this species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, of which it is currently a candidate. By joining conservation groups such as this one, you can contribute to the efforts towards protecting this endangered species.
Meltwater Lednian Stonefly
United States Fish & Wildlife Federal listing: Proposed as Threatened 2016
Although seemingly insignificant in size, the meltwater lednian stonefly is far from mediocre in its abilities. Currently found in only a few locations including Glacier and Flathead, these water-loving bugs thrive in the frigid streams produced by glaciers and snow melt. They spend most of their life as an egg and nymph, completing their life cycle in only a year or two. These insects are incredibly sensitive to changes in water quality, making them excellent indicators of the health of their freshwater habitats. By forming the base of the food chain and decomposing organic matter such as leaves, they play a critical role in the aquatic ecosystem.
As they are dependent on extremely cold glacier water, the stonefly’s habitat is limited and they are facing serious decline due to rising temperatures. Since 1850, Glacier National Park has seen a decrease of 125 glaciers with only 25 still remaining. We can still help the meltwater lednian stonefly by joining and contributing to organizations such as the Biological Center for Diversity, who are working hard to place this species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The ESA’s primary goal is to prevent the extinction of imperiled plant and animal life, and secondly, to recover and maintain those populations by removing or lessening threats to their survival.
To be considered for listing, the species must meet one of five criteria (section 4(a)(1)):
1. There is the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range.
2. An over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.
3. The species is declining due to disease or predation.
4. There is an inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.
5. There are other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
Currently in Montana there are 16 species that are federally listed as endangered or threatened, and 3 species that the listing of threated or endangered are currently being contested and 3 species that have been delisted.