5 plants and animals DNR works to restore

Indiana is home to a variety of plants and animals that bolster the biodiversity of the state. But due to changes in habitats and the spread of disease, some of these species become imperiled or disappear.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources works through its Nongame Wildlife Fund to assist in the monitoring and restoration of endangered species and those of special concern.

The department has had some successes with the Bald Eagle and the Osprey, but also faces difficult goals while trying to restore the populations of other species.

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Here’s a brief list of a few notable species that have been added or removed from the state’s endangered species list.

Indiana Bat

The Indiana Bat is one of the state’s longest listed endangered species and was also one of the first species in the country to be endangered.

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The bat was first introduced to the federal endangered species list in March of 1967 alongside the American alligator, the Bald Eagle and the Grizzly Bear. It was the first time the Department of the Interior put an endangered species list together.

The endangered Indiana bat resides in Hendricks County parkland.

The species hibernates in large colonies across a few caves in the state, making them unusually vulnerable. Human disturbances, pesticides and clear cutting forests have also put the Indiana Bat in peril.

Osprey

These birds of prey are an Indiana success story.

Between 1990 and 2000, right after biologists with DNR reintroduced Osprey to the state, a single nest was seen each year. By 2005, the birds managed to build five nests. Researchers identified 35 nests in 2010 and that nearly doubled by 2015 when the birds had built 69 nests.

Indiana photographer Marilyn Culler captured this image of an osprey in Putnam County.

The department reported most recently in 2020 that 126 osprey nests were reported to be active in the state.

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The eventual return of Osprey led to DNR removing it from its endangered species list, which is no easy task. Usually there aren’t easily obtained goals, such as nest counting, when trying to restore populations.

For the first time in more than 30 years, a red knot was recorded at Eagle Creek Park.  This bird migrates 9,000 miles from Argentina to the Arctic every year.

Red Knot

The populations of red knots declined in the 1800s as many were shot during migration, according to the National Audubon Society. Then overharvesting of horseshoe crabs along the Atlantic coast depleted an important food source for the bird. Spotted in Indiana for the first time in more than 30 years, the red knot made an appearance at Eagle Creek Park in the fall of 2019.

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