Wildlife experts are mulling on adding four species found in the Midwest to the list of animals that are protected by the government under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will evaluate the status of the wood turtle, northern bog lemming, regal fritillary butterfly and rusty-patched bumble bee to determine if federal protection is warranted for these wildlife species.
The service initiated the status review following petitions that call for the protection of 25 species under the Endangered Species Act, which protects imperiled plants and animals.
Once assessment of these species is completed, the agency will determine if it should propose any as endangered or threatened, which would warrant government protection.
"For each species, the Service must determine that listing is warranted or not warranted, and may determine that listing is warranted but currently precluded due to needs of higher priority species," the USFWS said in a statement.
The northern bog lemming is already labeled as a species of concern in Minnesota for over three decades because of how rare it is in the state. It is found in wet subalpine meadows, sphagnum bogs and mossy forests in northern states.
The regal fritillary is sometimes mistaken for a monarch butterfly with its orange and black color. As a caterpillar, it only eats violets.
The rusty-patched bumble bee used to be common but its population saw a massive decline of 95 percent in recent years. The bee depends on flowers that bloom between April and September.
The wood turtles live in woodland bogs, streams and marshy pastures in northern states but the degradation and destruction of their habitat as well as the illegal collection of the animal and increased death from road kills have affected their number.
"All of these problems are compounded by the wood turtle's low reproductive potential, resulting in few juveniles recruited into the population. The wood turtle was designated a threatened species in Minnesota in 1984," reads the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
The USFWS also seeks input as it conducts studies that will help determine the need for an ESA listing. The agency said that information regarding the species in question may be submitted starting Sept. 16 until Nov. 17.