Changes to Endangered Species Act not likely to hurt Dakota Zoo’s conservation efforts

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The federal government is changing some rules around the Endangered Species Act, but those changes shouldn't have an effect on the Dakota Zoo's conservation efforts. The zoo cares for primates, cats and horse, all of which are on the endangered or threatened list.

The Department of the Interior’s rule changes are drawing backlash from conservation groups for rule changes, including doing an economic analysis of protecting a certain species, but it can’t be used in the official determination process.

Dakota Zoo director Terry Lincoln says the concern is whether decisions will continue to be based strictly on scientific data.

“If we start looking at other reasons to, like it's very popular to take this animal off the endangered species list, but if the numbers aren't there to support that then that's not a wise decision,” said Lincoln.

Lincoln adds the goal is to get animals off the endangered list, like the Przewalski’s Horse. The horse is native to Mongolia. Lincoln says these animals are a successful example of long-term conservation plan, but he doesn’t expect them to get off the list anytime soon.

“We hope they get to the point where we can de-list. That’s an exciting thing if we can do that and it’s meaningful and it’s the right decision and I would think these animals have a very good chance of eventually being de-listed,” said Lincoln.

Lincoln believes the efforts have led to several hundred horse being released back in the wild.