Keeping Common Species Common

Over eighty percent (80%) of Michigan's wildlife species can be classified as nongame species. While many of these animals benefit from the fish and wildlife management practices carried on by the Department of Natural Resources, the only dedicated funding to help in managing and maintaining these species is the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund.

One of the primary goals of the fund is to keep common species common. Too often the focus of management is on threatened or endangered species. These are species whose populations have fallen so low that they have been provided special protection. The danger in this is not watching what other species might be falling though the cracks.

One of the Natural Heritage Program goals has been to make sure that our common species remain common. That is why each year we provide funding for projects like the frog and toad survey, the breeding bird atlas, and for management such as gating bat hibernaculums to protect common nongame animals.

It has taken nearly 30 years and millions of dollars to restore two species: the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. It takes much less time and money to manage and protect common species.

Contributions to the Trust Fund and purchases of the Critical Wildlife Habitat license plate are critical in two ways. First, they do support the restoration of endangered and threatened species in Michigan. Secondly, they are the only dedicated funds the Department has to make sure common nongame species remain common.

Michigan Vertebrates

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Michigan's vertebrates are listed as nongame species. Not included in this count are the numerous threatened and endangered plants, insects, and mollusks on which the Natural Heritage Program conducts research. Below is a partial scorecard showing the numbers of vertebrates.

Total Number
of Species
Number of
Game Species
Fish 150 50
Amphibians 23 1
Reptiles 28 1
Mammals 66 23*
Birds 370 40


637 115
*does not include unprotected species such as skunks and red squirrels
Insects 15,000-20,000 species  
Mollusks 79 species  
Snails 195 species