New Study Finds Population Of Threatened Marbled Murrelet Down Almost 30 Percent In Last 10 Years

Friday, December 21, 2012
Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet
- photo by Thomas Hamer

Federal conservation efforts haven’t come close to reversing or even halting the decline of the Marbled Murrelet, a seabird that nests in old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. That’s the conclusion of a major new peer-reviewed study of the status of the Marbled Murrelet, which was prepared by scientists from the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Crescent Research, a private research firm.

The study, published in the international research journal The Condor, found that Marbled Murrelet numbers in five different study areas fell sharply between 2001 and 2010, from a total count of roughly 22,200 to a total count of roughly 16,700. The five study areas encompass all but one of the Marbled Murrelet conservation zones identified in the federal Marbled Murrelet Recovery Plan.

“This study confirms the fears that many conservationists have held for years,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy analyst for American Bird Conservancy. “By showing that the Marbled Murrelet is still in sharp decline, the study emphasizes the need for stronger, more aggressive conservation measures.”

Marbled Murrelets nest in tall trees found in forests in Washington, Oregon and California. The authors of the study cite the loss of nesting habitat as a major cause of the murrelet’s decline over the past century; they add that it still may be a contributing factor, thanks to major fires, logging and big wind storms.

Other changes cited as potentially important ranged from increased nest predation to reductions in the quality and availability of marine creatures eaten by the birds. Increased nest predation seems to be associated with the presence of more crows and ravens, which in turn is linked to growing human settlements and the presence of campgrounds.

This study was published on the heels of a court ruling that stopped timber sales and logging in three state-owned Oregon forests that are home to Marbled Murrelets. Federal District Court Judge Ann Aiken recently granted an injunction that prevents the state from proceeding on 11 timber sales, plus any other logging in occupied murrelet nest sites in the Elliot, Clatsop and Tillamook state forests. The ruling stops logging in murrelet habitat until the resolution of a case filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Portland Audubon Society. Those groups are asserting that the state's logging practices are harming the federally-protected seabird.

The Marbled Murrelet was Federally listed in 1992 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a designation that requires Federal agencies to carry out conservation programs for each listed species and ensure that any actions the agency funds, authorizes, or carries out are not likely to jeopardize the survival of the species, or to adversely modify species designated critical habitat. 


New Initiative Launched To Halt Global Extinctions

Gathered in Montreal, leading conservation organizations have announced a new global initiative to prevent the extinction of endangered species, in partnership with the governments of Brazil, Chile, and Madagascar. Supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the initiative will mobilize $6.7 million to deliver a project ... (click for more)

Kentucky Lake Wounded Soldier 2016 Open Bass Tournament Scheduled For May 7

Registration is underway for the Seventh Annual Wounded Soldier Bass Tournament to be held at Paris Landing on Kentucky Lake, Saturday, May 7. The tournament format will be a 3-fish limit with a guaranteed first prize of $2,000 based on 150 boats. The cost of the tournament is $180 per boat (two anglers maximum). Registration after May 1 increases to $225. The Tennessee ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Rules That Hutcheson Medical Center And Its Trustees Owe Erlanger $36,379,968.20

A federal judge at Rome, Ga., has ruled that the Hospital Authority of Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties and Hutcheson Medical Center are liable to pay Erlanger Health System $36,379,968.20. Judge Harold Murphy, in a 90-page opinion, discarded a counter-claim brought by Hutcheson against Erlanger. He directed that Erlanger be paid $20 million for money it spent while managing ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Hospitalized; 2 Cleveland Police Officers Injured After Altercation With Man With History Of Assaults

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson and two Cleveland Police officers were injured Thursday while intervening in a domestic assault in progress. While driving on 25 th St. N.W. Sheriff Watson witnessed the assault, it was stated. When the sheriff tried to intervene, the man involved in the assault attacked him. During the scuffle the man struck Sheriff Watson numerous times, ... (click for more)

Jill Levine Is An Educational Rock Star

No one has covered the Hamilton County Department of Education drama better than Roy Exum.  Thank you, Roy, but I take issue with your unnamed sources.  Professional jealousy and sour grape darts should not be anonymous.   HCDE is so dysfunctional, and there is good cause to place this public organization under a microscope, dissect it into pieces and discard all ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cancer Is Not A Battle

I read a marvelous essay not long ago where the author urged, “Stop telling the lie that cancer is a battle … a battle implies a fair fight, and there was nothing fair about my cancer or the cancer that took the life of my friend. Those experiences were about as fair as getting hit by a car – and nobody says people lose their battles with automobiles.” Mary Elizabeth Williams, ... (click for more)