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. 


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event Winter Workshop:  Jan. 29  - Fire by Friction Learn about tools and techniques for starting a fire with a bowdrill, or flint and steel at our next free  Winter Workshop , happening this  Thurs., Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m.  at Outdoor ... (click for more)

Cedars Of Lebanon State Park Receives Excellence In Innovation Award

Cedars of Lebanon State Park received the West Tennessee Excellence in Innovation Award at the 2015 Tennessee State Parks Management meeting last Wednesday.   Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated the ability to think outside the box to create new ideas for enhancement or improvement at their park. The innovative project must be long lasting or far reaching. ... (click for more)

Girl, 12, Stabs Boy, 13, Twice At Lookout Valley Middle High School

A female student stabbed a male student twice at Lookout Valley Middle High School on Thursday morning. It happened in a middle school classroom. Sheriff Jim Hammond the students are seventh graders.The girl is 12 and the boy 13. He  said the boy was taken by ambulance and went into surgery after the mid-morning stabbing.  He said the boy received a superficial ... (click for more)

Chief Fletcher Gives Maximum Punishment To Officer Who Fired At Vehicle That Backed Toward Him; Attorney Vows To Fight To Reverse Decision

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has given a maximum punishment to an officer who fired four shots toward a vehicle after he said the driver backed into his vehicle with him standing behind it. Chief Fletcher sustained a finding of “improper use of force – discharge of firearm.” He suspended Officer Alex Olson for 30 days without pay – the maximum suspension allowed ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This One’s For ‘Grifter’

Back in October of 2013 a Facebook page called “OAF Nation” was created to “boost the morale” of the heroes who make up our nation’s military.” It was tongue-in-cheek satire, putting funny captions on every-day pictures that showed members of the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as they defended our country. Our fighting men and women loved it. It quickly went viral and today ... (click for more)