As much as we in North Dakota pride ourselves on being conservationists and good stewards of the land, there are still animals here that might not be here for long.

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According to North Dakota Game and Fish, priority species for conservation in North Dakota's Wildlife Action Plan are those that fall under one of three categories. The Wildlife Action Plan contains details on each of these species' range, abundance, habitat needs, threats, management objectives, and monitoring methods.

They are divided into three groups based on the degree of conservation required:

Level I: These are endangered species that get little to no financial assistance or protection measures. It is the explicit duty of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to use funds from the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) to carry out conservation initiatives that directly benefit these species.

Species classified as Level I have a strong priority for conservation due to either a falling status locally or throughout their range or a high rate of occurrence in North Dakota that forms the heart of the species' breeding area; however, they are at risk throughout their entire range.

Level II: In the event that SWG funding for Level I species is insufficient or that conservation needs have been satisfied, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will use SWG funding to carry out conservation efforts that will benefit these species.

Species classified as Level II have either a high degree of conservation priority with a significant amount of non-SWG financing available to them or a moderate level of conservation priority.

Level III: These species are thought to be peripheral or non-breeding in North Dakota, although they have a moderate level of conservation priority.

It should be noted that level II designations are given to federally threatened and endangered species since alternative non-SWG funding sources, like the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, are accessible. The key takeaway is that, irrespective of ranking, every species on the list is critically endangered for a variety of reasons, and it is urgent to maintain them on the North Dakota landscape.

There are 36 Level I, 44 Level II, and 35 Level III species at this time.

Here are the animals that currently fall into one of the three categories:

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