Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

“Tomorrow’s Habitat for the Wild and Rare: An Action Plan for Minnesota Wildlife” focuses on species in greatest conservation need and the habitats on which they depend. This wildlife action plan defines “species in greatest conservation need” as animals whose populations are rare, declining or vulnerable to decline, as well as below levels desirable to ensure their long-term health and stability. The 292 identified species in Minnesota represent approximately one-quarter of the state’s nearly 1,200 known native wildlife species.

The plan’s approach involves a partnership of conservation organizations working together to ensure that these species are sustained for future generations. Members of the partnership include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota, as well as many other agencies and conservation organizations.

The plan outlines priority conservation actions that partners can adopt and adapt to their unique interests and capacities. The plan presents profiles for 25 ecologically defined landscapes within Minnesota. Key habitats for species in greatest conservation need, a priority focus for action, are identified within each of these ecological landscapes.


Over 75% of Minnesota land is privately owned and 1.5% is in tribal ownership. Nearly 23% of Minnesota’s land and all its waters are managed by local, state or Federal governments. Public lands include national forests, national wildlife refuges, state forests, parks, wildlife management areas and scientific and natural areas. Conservation partners like The Nature Conservancy share in the management of a number of conservation lands.

Wildlife Highlights

Minnesota’s opportunities for fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching are world-renowned, with participation rates among the highest in the country. A natural diversity of wildlife, however, is critical to supporting a healthy ecology, economy and society. Minnesota has identified 292 species that have significant conservation need, including the Spruce Grouse, Karner blue butterfly, lake sturgeon, spectacle-case mussel and the Eastern Timber wolf.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Minnesota

Habitat loss and degradation are the most significant problems facing wildlife in Minnesota, affecting forests, grasslands, lakes and wetlands. These habitat concerns impact not only species in greatest conservation need, but also the economic and cultural benefits of a healthy environment, including people’s opportunity to enjoy quality outdoor experiences.

A lack of knowledge about wildlife species, their habitats and management requirements limits informed decision-making and recommendations for protecting and managing habitats. Wildlife managers need more surveys for species of greatest conservation need, and more applied research that directly benefits land managers. Information is the key to adaptive management. Sometimes, new information reveals that a species is doing worse than expected and more attention is needed. Other times, a species originally thought to be rare and declining is found to be fairly secure. A lack of adequate information and education programs related to wildlife conservation reduces the opportunities for Minnesotans to appreciate, understand and protect many little-known wildlife species.

Working Together for Minnesota’s Wildlife

The Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan created a project structure that engaged over 100 conservationists across the state. Individuals with a broad range of technical expertise – including knowledge of individual native species, habitats, native communities and conservation planning – comprehensively reviewed the best available information to identify a set of species in greatest conservation need and create a conservation approach that seeks to ensure the survival of all Minnesota’s wildlife for future generations to experience and enjoy.


The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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