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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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The Rare Ones

JPG-Audubon sheep.

What Are The Solutions?

The Key: Habitat

Habitat protection is the key to protecting our rare, threatened, and endangered species. A species cannot survive without a home. Our first priority in protecting a species is to ensure its habitat remains intact.

Habitat protection can be done in a variety of ways. Before we can protect a plant's or animal's habitat, we need to know where this habitat is found. The first step, then is to identify where in the state these vanishing species are found. This is being accomplished today by state and federal agencies and conservation organizations.

Second to identification is planning for protection and management. How can the species and its habitat be best protected, and once protected, how can we make sure the species continues healthy in its protected home? Each species and habitat is different and must be planned on a case-by-case basis. A few protection and management efforts have proven effective for several species, however.

Legislation was passed to protect the most endangered species in the United States. These special species cannot be destroyed nor can their habitat be eliminated. They are marked in the endangered species list by an *. Several federal and state agencies are beginning to manage threatened and endangered species on public lands. Recognition of private landowners who have voluntarily agreed to protect rare plants and animals is underway. All these efforts need to continue and be expanded to keep North Dakota's natural heritage alive.

This publication separates the species into their appropriate habitat. Different species require different kinds of habitat but habitat is not easy to describe. A general term like "prairie" is adequate to describe habitat of many plants and animals, but is inadequate for organisms that require several habitats during their life cycle. Habitat for many organisms can be roughly classified by the size and form of the commonest plants that make up vegetation.

A very general habitat classification is presented here, along with the species most closely associated with each habitat.

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