The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in October that it will move forward with plans to remove the marbled murrelet, a small seabird, from under the protective wing of the Endangered Species Act.
The robin-sized bird, which lays
its eggs on the moss-covered branches of old-growth trees, has
hampered Northwest logging for more than a decade. Scientists say
the species is sliding toward extinction in Oregon, Washington and
California. However, the Bush administration has concluded that the
birds in these states do not differ enough from more numerous
murrelets in Canada and Alaska to merit protection on their own
(HCN, 9/27/04: Life After Old Growth).
Biologists in the
Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office in Portland,
Ore., said last year that there were clear enough differences
between murrelet populations to necessitate the protection of the
birds in the Northwest. Their draft report stated that the loss of
any murrelet populations would "compromise (the species’)
But Craig Manson, assistant
secretary of the Department of Interior for fish, wildlife and
parks, reversed the findings. The language about "long-term
viability" was deleted from the final report, which argued that new
wildlife safeguards in Canada would be sufficient to save the
Canadian scientists are skeptical, however. "I
don’t think the U.S. can expect Canada to provide extra
murrelets," says Alan Burger, a murrelet biologist at the
University of Victoria, "because ours are in trouble as well."