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Lake, Cook Counties Top State List For Endangered Species

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 21, 2013 1:30PM

The snowy egret is endangered in Cook County. (Photo credit: Chris Clayson)
Treasure those hikes in the forest preserves, readers. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Lake and Cook counties have the highest number of endangered species in the Prairie state. That includes animals and plants.

The DNR maintains a "Natural Heritage Database" they update frequently and even break down by county. According to their numbers, Lake County is home to 138 endangered or threatened species, while Cook County is second on the list with 112. the Cook County list shows an astounding number of plants on the list, but birds such as the little blue heron and snowy egret are also on the list. Lake County's list includes majestic species like the gray wolf and Peregrine falcon.

If you guessed that development played a art in the high numbers, give yourself a Might Marvel No-Prize. DNR endangered species manager Joe Kath told the Daily Herald Lake and Cook counties consistently top the list because they have the most development, often at the expense of the surrounding wetlands. These can be threatened by salt and oil runoff, if they aren't built upon already. Shallow water areas have fallen prey to invasive, non-native plants.

"People think, 'Oh, it's only one little thing' ... but the more components you remove from the ecosystem, the more it will be in trouble," Kath said.

Endangered Species in Illinois by County by Chicagoist