Three species removed from endangered list
Species still protected from being hunted or trapped
The Department of Natural Resources has removed bobcats, badgers and river otters from the endangered species list in Indiana. The three species, river otter, bobcat and badger have been reclassified but remain protected as "non-game species."
All three species were the beneficiary of DNR programs funded primarily by the Indiana Non-game Wildlife Fund, the tax check-off option provided on the Indiana income tax form and direct donations. Some activities were funded through state wildlife grants. "The elevation of these species from endangered to protected non-game status is the result of a highly effective wildlife program and a series of important partnerships in Indiana," said DNR director Kyle Hupfer. Trappers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and other Hoosiers have all been a part of providing more habitat for these species to exist and flourish."
By Indiana law, endangered species are any species or subspecies of wildlife whose prospects for survival or recruitment within the state are in jeopardy or are likely to become so within the foreseeable future. While the badger, bobcat and river otter were all included on Indiana's original endangered species list in 1969, studies by DNR biologists throughout the past 10 years have shown a growing population of all three endangered species.
Ten years ago DNR surveys found evidence of badgers in as many as 61 Hoosier counties. Since that time, additional information has placed badgers in another 21 counties. This increase stems from a low of 33 counties reported in the mid-1950s.
The increase in the population of the river otter is the result of not only improved habitat but also a program to re-introduce the species in Indiana. From 1995 through 1999 more than 300 otters were released at 12 sites in six northern and southern Indiana watersheds. Otters are now recorded in 63 counties although the population remains highest in the areas where the releases took place.
Bobcats, always scarce in Indiana, also are on the rebound. The species has recently been confirmed in 32 counties. Bobcat studies centered around Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and private land in the heart of the bobcat's range in Indiana confirm the improving status of bobcat populations.
Indiana Big Tree Register 2005 Edition
For the past five years, many Hoosiers have been stalking big trees. These efforts have resulted in the 2005 edition of the Indiana Big Tree Register, now available free of charge at the DNR.
The seventh edition of the Register lists 112 species of trees considered native to Indiana. Of those, 91 are represented in the 2005 Register as "champions" (in terms of size), and two species are represented as co-champs. All trees in the Indiana Big Tree Register were nominated by tree enthusiasts. "These are people who appreciate the value that large, mature trees provide to the state," explained State Forester John Seifert of the DNR. "Trees, especially large ones, provide a multitude of benefits for cities, towns, and rural communities. They sequester more carbon, collect more pollution, and give more oxygen just by merit of their size. That's why it's important to properly manage urban and rural woodlots, and to maintain and plant trees in our cities, towns, neighborhoods, and yards."
Vanderburgh County has the largest number of big trees (26), which were nominated by big tree hunter Tom Westfall. Westfall located sizeable trees around city businesses and in city parks, in Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, at Evansville State Hospital, and on private property throughout the Evansville area. To celebrate its tree heritage, the city has planned a big tree bus tour for September 17.
The largest tree - Big Tree Champ, if you will — for this year's publication is a sycamore located in Johnson County near Trafalgar. The smallest of the Big Tree Champs is a green haw growing in Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve in Evansville.
Currently, four trees have reigned as champions since the inception of the register in 1974: a Deam Oak in Wells County, a black walnut in Fayette County at Schraeder-Weaver Nature Preserve, an American elm owned by Jim Herzog in Rosedale (Parke County), and a tulip poplar owned by Bill Quillam of Washington (Daviess County).