Harmful Sage Grouse Rider Dropped from Defense Bill & Other News

Good News! Sage Grouse Protection Moves Ahead; Harmful Rider Dropped from National Defense Bill

 Some good news for sage grouse! New federal management plans to conserve 35 million acres of federal lands inhabited by the Greater Sage-Grouse will be going into effect. Some members of Congress had sought to halt grouse conservation by including an amendment (or rider) to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prevented these crucially important plans from being implemented. It would also have prevented Endangered Species Act protection for the next 10 years no matter how grouse populations are faring.

Thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of citizen letters to Congress (over 10,000 from ABC supporters in the just the last month), this harmful rider has been dropped from the Defense Bill.  Our thanks to all those who took action in support of sage grouse conservation.

Interactive Website: New Tool to Reduce Seabird Bycatch

A dynamic new website—www.fisheryandseabird.info/—created by American Bird Conservancy and The Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Environmental Informatics puts a wealth of information helpful in reducing seabird bycatch right at the fingertips of those who need it most: fishermen, conservationists, and those promoting fishery sustainability. The site, explained in an introductory video, is designed to help users assess the risk for the accidental capture of seabirds in fisheries and take action to reduce bycatch.

Featuring a database with profiles of 378 seabird species, the website offers a unique way to access a wealth of information. After drawing a map that outlines an area of interest, one click produces a list of seabirds known to occur there, along with useful information for assessing the risk posed to seabirds by fishing gear.  Users can create fishery area maps and determine which birds occur there and produce reports with information such as diving depth and diet that may indicate the risk posed by fishing gear.

Seabirds are among the most threatened groups of birds, with approximately 29 percent of seabird species listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categories Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.

Endangered Species Updates

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel Proposed for ESA Listing:  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed recently proposed that a suite of 49 Hawaiian species be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Among the bees, shrimp, and plants put forward for protection is one bird species: the Hawaiian population of the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, a small seabird believed to have dwindled to only 240 known pairs. In this ecosystem-based approach, FWS is proposing to list the petrel along with dozens of other species that share the bird’s important and heavily impacted habitats: the coastal, dry cliff, and wet cliff ecosystems of Hawai‘i.Read our opinion on ABC’s “Bird Calls” blog.

Elfin-woods Warbler Proposed for Listing: The Elfin-woods Warbler inhabits two small forest areas in Puerto Rico and iscurrently at risk throughout its range due to threats including sun coffee production. In addition, other natural or manmade factors, such as restricted distribution and lack of connectivity, genetic drift, hurricanes, and climate change, are considered threats.  We support this the proposed listing.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Loses ESA Protection:  A federal court in Texas recently stripped the Lesser Prairie-Chicken of Endangered Species Act protection. At ABC we believe that the long-term decline of the species suggests the need to continue the significant private conservation efforts being undertaken by agencies and landowners, and caution against changes in ESA protection until a sustained range-wide recovery of the species is achieved. While there are recent encouraging signs, the species is vulnerable to drought conditions, and populations fluctuate significantly over time. Additional impacts from industrial developments could tip the balance since the species’ recovery is still precarious.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker Translocation to Great Dismal Swamp: Biologists from several agencies and organizations have come together to make preparations for a historic woodpecker translocation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, North Carolina Department of Transportation, The Nature Conservancy, The Center for Conservation Biology, and J. Carter & Associates have all joined forces in a coordinated effort to move Red-cockaded Woodpeckers to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The effort has been years in the making and will attempt to establish a new population of the federally endangered woodpecker on the refuge.  For more, see The Center for Conservation Biology’s newsletter.

News on Northern Spotted Owl & Marbled Murrelet

 Building on Two Decades of Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity Conservation under the Northwest Forest Plan, USA: A new study published in Forests finds that the Northwest Forest Plan is on track to achieve long-range goals. Due to climate change and ongoing logging on non-federal lands, it now needs to be strengthened by adding to the reserve network and aquatic conservation strategy protections. http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/6/9/3326

Don’t Be Hasty on Changing Northwest Forest Plan: The Seattle Times editorial board issued this opinion in September, 2015: The U.S. Forest Service should not be too hasty to abandon a region-wide approach in the Northwest Forest Plan.

 BLM Departure from Northwest Forest Plan Considered a Bad Idea: Comments on the Bureau of Land Management draft resource management plans for western Oregon from a coalition of national and regional conservation groups are available. Find them here.

Forests and Bird Conservation

 Delivering Bird Conservation in Managed Forests: ABC is partnering in a new, innovative project with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to deliver bird conservation across millions of acres of managed forest land in the U.S. and Canada. See ABC’s “Bird Calls” blog for more.

Presentation: Responding to Wildfires from an Ecological & Climate Perspective

Wildfires have occurred across the West this year, and agencies have mobilized significant resources to quickly extinguish or control them. However, little public discussion has occurred about the effectiveness of these approaches, or what the best strategies, practices, and policies would be to respond to wildfires from an ecological perspective, including carbon management. For this reason the Federal Forest Carbon Coalition will hold a presentation and discussion with three noted scientists who will share their perspectives on how forest management agencies could best prepare for and respond to wildfires in western states with biodiversity, ecosystems, and carbon in mind.

When:   Monday, October 26 from 9:00-10:30 am PST/12 noon-1:30 pm EST


  • Dr. Beverly Law, Oregon State University
  • Dr. Matthew Hurteau, University of New Mexico
  • Dr. Malcom North, USFS Research Station and University of California, Davis

To Register: Go to this link:  http://goo.gl/forms/SdyaO47MAs

Migratory Bird Conservation

Federal Government Resumes Cormorant Slaughter on East Sand Island: The federal government has resumed killing Double-crested Cormorants at East Sand island in the Columbia River despite the revelation last month that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who issued the permit to kill the birds, doesn’t believe the killing will aid in salmon recovery. In addition, the killing has resumed despite the Service’s conclusion that it had met its cormorant population objectives back in June. Read more.

Duke University Retrofits Building Glass to Counteract Spike in Bird Deaths: Good news. Duke University is addressing a bird-collision problem at a new campus building. Learn more.

Court Ruling Overturns Agency Regulation on Incidental Take: According to Greenwire, the federal government will likely appeal a circuit court ruling this month that overturned an oil company’s convictions under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Get more information.

Dining on Insecticides in Congress – Opinion by ABC’s Cynthia Palmer

Many Americans seek out fresh and healthy foods both to protect their families and to lend their support for a more sustainable world. But it is hard to know what you are biting into—even if you happen to be a United States Senator. It turns out that when members of Congress dine in the Senate and House cafeterias, 90 percent of the fruits and vegetables on their trays are likely to contain insecticides known as neonicotinoids. While the concentrations are below what the EPA considers dangerous to humans, there is nonetheless reason for concern. Read more.

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