State Protected Species Lists to be Updated

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The Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is initiating the first comprehensive revision of Georgia’s protected plant and animal lists since 1992. These lists specify what species are protected under Georgia’s Wildflower Preservation Act and Georgia’s Endangered Wildlife Act, and are increasingly used to help prioritize funding for conservation and research on rare species. The listing status of each species will be based upon the best available scientific data from WRD biologists, other experts, and members of the general public. The Board of Natural Resources will make the final decision on which species will be added to or deleted from the lists.

WRD will begin accepting nominations and supporting data for proposed changes to the state protected species list on Feb. 24, 2006. Nomination forms and an official timeline describing each step of the revision process are available online at www.georgiawildlife.com (Nongame Animals and Plants Page), and may be requested by calling WRD offices at (706) 557-3032 or (770) 918-6411. Residents can also request to be placed on a mailing list to receive public notices during the revision process.

“Accurate lists of state protected plants and animals, based on the best available science, are an integral component of efforts to conserve Georgia’s wildlife,” said Mike Harris, Section Chief for the WRD Nongame Wildlife and Natural Heritage Section. “These lists are increasingly used to guide voluntary conservation efforts by government agencies, conservation organizations, and other conservation partners.”

Prohibitions specified in the Endangered Wildlife Act and the Wildflower Preservation Act can be used to deter the illegal harvest of plants and animals. While habitat loss is the most severe threat to most of Georgia’s rare species, certain species such as turtles or crayfish face a very significant threat from over-collection.

Georgia law specifically states that rules and regulations related to the protection of state protected species shall not affect rights in private property. Prohibitions are limited to the capture, killing, or selling of protected species and the protection of the habitat of these species on public lands.

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about protected species and the revision process is posted at www.georgiawildlife.com on the Nongame Animals and Plants page. In addition, an informational meeting to explain the review process will be held between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on March 15 at the Charlie Elliott Conference Center near Mansfield, Ga. The main entrance to the conference center is on Marben Farm Road, which is accessed from GA Hwy 11 approximately 3 miles south of Mansfield. Please call (770) 784-3059 for directions.