Featured Species for Habitat Management

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Kirtland's Warbler in JackpineThe Wildlife Division’s Featured Species are animals that are highly valued, are limited by habitat availability, and have been selected to focus the Division’s habitat management efforts.  Featured species may include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or insects. 

The current list of 41 Featured Species was selected by Wildlife Division with input from other DNR Divisions and many stakeholders.  The list of featured species places an emphasis on game animals, at-risk species, and species whose habitat management is beneficial to many other species. 

Wildlife habitat is the home or environment where an animal or a population of animals lives.  It is the total conditions in an animal’s surroundings that have a direct bearing on its growth, reproduction, and survival.  An animal’s habitat is just one of a number of different factors that affect its survival; however the degradation or loss of habitat is the primary cause of wildlife declines worldwide.  

The intent of Featured Species habitat management is to address the primary limiting habitat need for the species and provide sufficient abundance of each species to meet specific population goals such as providing hunting opportunities or meeting delisting criteria.Featured Species are not the only wildlife species that the Wildlife Division values, but they are a priority for the Division and resources will be directed towards management of their habitats.  Other species, with vegetation cover requirements similar to the Featured Species, will also benefit from these habitat management activities.

For questions or comments regarding the Featured Species Program, please contact:

Mike Donovan at DonovanM@michigan.gov or 517-284-6178
Kerry Fitzpatrick at FitzpatrickK@michigan.gov or 517-284-4726


List of Featured Species with Habitat Management Direction

American bittern - Maintaining existing and where possible restoring emergent wetland/grassland complexes, ideally greater than 50 acres. Where water levels can be manipulated, maintaining stable water levels during the breeding season, from April through August.                        
beaver - Where possible, promoting alder, aspen, birch, maple or willow within 100 feet of streams or other bodies of water. Removing or discouraging beavers only where essential to maintain higher priority values.
black bear - Promoting the oak component in hardwood forests, larger sized forested tracts, and forested corridors connecting larger forested tracts.
Blackburnian warbler - Promoting the mesic conifer component (hemlock, white pine, red pine, upland spruce-fir) on state forest lands and by increasing the average age of mesic conifers.  
black-throated blue warbler - Maximizing forest interiors by increasing the size of forested tracts, minimizing forest openings, and using single tree/group selection harvests. Promoting well-developed shrub understories.
bluebird - Promoting grasslands, forest openings, and snags or other nest sites.
bobolink - Promoting large grasslands greater than 75 acres and avoiding mowing or burning during the May-July breeding season.  
Canada goose - Attracting geese during hunting season by maintaining short green browse and leaving uncut reserves or waste grain during agricultural harvests. Discouraging geese from housing developments, golf courses, and business parks by maintaining tall grass or shrubs between lawns and onsite water.  
cottontail - Promoting grasslands adjacent to shrub-lands or early successional forests. Creating brush piles adjacent to grasslands and row crops.  
eastern fox snake - Manipulating water levels outside of the November - March hibernation period at occupied sites; mowing or burning when snakes are hibernating; and leaving downed trees or dead wood where nest sites and refugia are lacking.
eastern meadowlark - Promoting grassland patches greater than 12 acres; mowing or burning grasslands every 3 to 5 years; and avoiding mowing or burning during the May-August breeding season.
elk - Maintaining a continual supply of young forests, particularly aspen; increasing non-forested openings & upland brush; promoting oak mast production; and managing for mixed pine-hardwood stands.
golden-winged warbler - Maintaining a mosaic of lowland and grassland-shrub communities, particularly alder & young aspen; and managing adjacent aspen stands on a 40 year rotation such that one stand in an area provides young aspen.
goshawk - Establishing no-cut protection zones around nests; limiting timber activity near nests during the breeding season; and encouraging large contiguous blocks of forest. 
gray jay - Maintaining the spruce/fir cover-type in the UP, particularly along bog edges; and promoting a representation of older age classes of this boreal cover-type.
greater & lesser scaup - Protecting open water wetlands; and promoting submerged aquatic vegetation beds & associated invertebrates.
Karner blue butterfly - Promoting savanna habitats in western and southeastern Michigan with lupine and associated nectar plants.
Kirtland's Warbler - Maintaining a constant supply of large blocks of young jack pine.
mallard - Protecting shallow marshes with an even mix of emergent wetland vegetation and open water less than 3 feet deep; and promoting grasslands adjacent to such wetlands.
marten - Retaining a representation of large cull trees & downed woody debris; encouraging wooded corridors that connect large forested tracts; and promoting mesic conifer cover-types & the mesic conifer component in mixed stands.
massasauga rattlesnake - Limiting trees or shrubs in occupied wetland & adjacent uplands; manipulating water levels only when the species is active; and mowing & burning only during the November - March hibernation period.
Mitchell’s satyr - At occupied site: reducing invasive plant species; maintaining the flow of surface & ground water; and promoting the growth of short-statured forbs.
moose - Promoting hemlock; and maintaining young aspen & hardwood browse adjacent to conifer swamps, lakes, bogs, & rivers.
osprey - Identifying potential breeding habitat; and providing artificial nest platforms where needed.
peregrine falcon - Protecting historical and current nest sites; identifying potential breeding habitat; and providing artificial nest platforms where needed.
pileated woodpecker - Where possible, reserving from timber harvests a representation of large trees greater than 12 inches in diameter.
piping plover - Limiting human activity near nests; and protecting nests & young from predators.
red crossbill - Promoting a representation of mature white and red pine greater than 100 years; where possible, retaining from harvests large white and red pine trees; and setting aside core tracts of mature pine as conservation areas.
red-headed woodpecker - Encouraging the presence of beaver; retaining from harvests snags & small blocks of standing dead wood; maintaining a representation of savanna-like open canopy conditions; and promoting oak mast production.
red-shouldered hawk - Establishing no-cut protection zones around nests; limiting timber activity near nests during the breeding season; and encouraging large contiguous blocks of forest.
ring-necked pheasant - Increasing the amount of grasslands; promoting large grassland blocks; providing cattails or dense standing grasses as winter cover; providing un-harvested grains & fruit-bearing shrubs as winter food; and promoting enrollment in Farm Bill programs.
ruffed grouse - Expanding aspen cover-type & the aspen component in mixed stands; balancing the aspen age-class distribution to maintain young stands across the landscape; and managing adjacent aspen stands on a 40 year rotation such that one stand in an area is always providing young aspen.
sharp-tailed grouse - Promoting large open complexes made up of herbaceous openings, pine barrens, sedge meadows, & herbaceous wetlands; maintaining core pine barrens with short rotation opening maintenance; and managing for regenerating forests adjacent to permanent openings.
snowshoe hare - Maintaining young aspen with a conifer understory or adjacent to lowland conifer; encouraging lowland shrub & beaver pond communities; producing young jack pine stands; and retaining slash & creating brush piles within timber sales.
spruce grouse - Promoting diverse mixed conifer stands particularly along riparian corridors and lowland margins.
upland sandpiper - Promoting large grassland/forest opening complexes greater than 250 acres made up of core permanent grasslands and adjacent or nearby harvested forest units.
white-tailed deer - In the UP and NLP: Promoting conifer stands that provide good thermal cover; providing palatable & nutritious regenerating hardwoods, shrubs, and herbaceous openings adjacent to winter cover. In the SLP: Providing fall foods and escape cover that attract deer to state wildlife/game areas.
wild turkey - Providing sources of winter food; promoting oak mast production; maintaining brood-rearing openings; and planting food plots on public hunting areas.
wood duck - Protecting forested wetlands; restoring shallow marshes; and promoting shrub or woodlands adjacent to shallow marshes.
wood thrush - Maintaining forested tracts greater than 250 acres; minimize forest edges; maximizing forest interiors; and promoting forested corridors between smaller forest patches.
woodcock - Promoting the aspen cover-type with a diversity of age-classes, particularly stands associated with alder, riparian zones, or forested wetlands.