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. 


Boater Safety Course Offered At The Chattanooga Boat And Sport Show

Boating season is quickly approaching and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants the public to be ready. One can sign up for the boating safety course offered at the Chattanooga Boat and Sport Show this  Saturday, at  9 a.m.  Entry to the show is free after completion of the course. Boater safety courses provide operators with the best knowledge to ... (click for more)

Fur Harvesters Annual Sale In Crossville Is Feb. 20

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be on hand to provide fur harvesters with bobcat and otter tags at the annual Fur Harvesters Association sale on  Feb. 20 , at the National Guard Armory in Crossville. Check in starts at  8 a.m.  Central Standard Time and the sale will begin  9:30 a.m.  The event will continue until all sales are final. ... (click for more)

Underground Fire Closes Several Downtown Streets

An underground fire closed several downtown streets late Saturday afternoon. At approximately 5:20 p.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a reported fire in a man-hole at the corner of Chestnut Street and W. 8th Street. When fire companies arrived on the scene, they found black smoke coming from an underground electrical service line. The man-hole cover had been ... (click for more)

16-Year-Old Who Was Shot In The Head In East Ridge Dies

 Monserrate Ferrer, the 16 year old who  was shot in East Ridge on Friday , has died. Investigators will meet early next week with the Hamilton County District  Attorney's Office to discuss the case. The shooting that involved two juveniles was at the 4200 block of Bennett Road. Responding officers found a 16-year-old boy in the bedroom with a single ... (click for more)

The City Failed To Watch The Chattanooga History Museum Dollars

The tell tale signs of the History Museum's folly have been evident for years. When I was a former member of City Council I interviewed Dr. Daryl Black, Ph.D. to determine if I should argue for or against the annual funding of his organization. His interview, the multi-year history of administrative non-performance (despite consistent repetitive funding), and a review of the organizational ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote ‘No’ On Vouchers

I fully believe that public education in Hamilton County is the single most important opportunity that challenges us today. Over the weekend the new website for the ‘Chattanooga 2.0’ initiative went up and every parent who has a child in our public system should make it “required reading.” You can find it at www.chatt2.org. Please sign up for updates because a lot of us need to ... (click for more)