MADISON (AP) - Conservationists and researchers are urging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to reconsider the removal of a protected turtle from the endangered species list.
The Blanding's turtle is one of 16 species the DNR is recommending for elimination from the list. The turtle's removal is creating the biggest stir, according to DNR zoologist Terrell Hyde.
The DNR concluded the turtle is not in danger of disappearing from the state in the foreseeable future, despite a 10 to 30 percent decline in its population.
"We're finding viable populations in the state. And they are reproducing," Hyde said.
The construction industry is a strong proponent of the turtle's delisting. Because it's protected, builders are required to file paperwork on how they will minimize harm to the species.
The DNR's studies show such a level of protection may not be necessary, said Jerry Deschane, executive director of the Wisconsin Builders Association.
"More than anything else," Deschane said, "we respect the process the DNR has gone through to study this. On that basis we support the proposal."
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology have been studying the Blanding's turtle and other marsh turtle species in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The researchers said the DNR's assessment of the population is flawed. The agency's 353 sightings of the turtle don't necessarily translate to a healthy population, researchers said, and many of the observations are road kill.
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