U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Proposes To List Hummingbird As Endangered

Friday, January 4, 2013
Honduran Emerald
Honduran Emerald
- photo by Greg Homel, Natural Elements Productions

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed to list as endangered the Honduran Emerald hummingbird, a species endemic to five small valleys in Honduras and whose population is estimated to be fewer than 1,500 and decreasing.

The announcement follows the completion of a species status review (also known as the 12-month finding) by FWS. The announcement seeks information and comment from the public over the next 60 days on the proposed listing for this species. The action was prompted by an October 28, 2008 petition by two hummingbird conservation organizations and others, requesting the endangered listing. While an endangered listing would draw attention to the plight of the bird and the threats it faces, the practical benefits are limited since the U.S. Endangered Species Act has no force of law beyond U.S. borders.

The proposal specifically requests comments or information from the Government of Honduras, the scientific community, or any other interested parties concerning the bird, including: information on the species’ taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection (especially breeding and foraging habitats), diet, and population abundance and trends (especially current recruitment data); information on the effects of habitat loss and changing land uses on the distribution and abundance of this species and its principal food sources over the short and long term; information on whether changing climatic conditions (i.e., increasing intensity of hurricanes or drought) are affecting the species, its habitat, or its food sources; and information on the effects of other potential factors, including live capture and collection, domestic and international trade, predation by other animals, and diseases of this species or its principal food sources over the short and long term.

The most obvious factor threatening the continued survival of this species is a significant loss of habitat (90 percent) over the past approximately 100 years due to land conversion to plantations, agriculture, and cattle pastures. As of 2012, the population was estimated to be between 350 and 1,500 birds with a decreasing trend. For example, the Honduran Emerald’s habitat formerly encompassed a large extent of the Aguán Valley, a once pristine plain of nearly 1,800 square miles. However, as a result of the agricultural reforms of the 1960’s and 1970’s ninety percent of its original habitat in that area no longer exists in its original form due to the conversion of its habitat to banana plantations and cattle pasture. Much of the Honduran Emerald’s habitat is now on privately owned land and is often planted with non-native grasses for cattle foraging. Now, only a single forest remnant larger than 247 acres that is suitable for this species is known to exist in this valley.

On a positive note, the Honduran Emerald Habitat Management Area has been expanded by about 2060 acres and was reclassified as the Honduran Emerald Wildlife Refuge in 2011 by the Honduran Government. Further, between 2007 and 2008, this species was detected in five valleys of Honduras including two valleys in the Santa Barbara Department: the Quimistán Valley and Tencoa Valley where it had not been recorded since 1935.

The Honduran Emerald is one of more than 338 hummingbird species. It is a medium-sized (average length 3.7 inches) hummingbird with an iridescent green back, iridescent blue-green throat and red bill.
Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2009-0094.

- U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2009-0094, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, Va. 22203.


2016 Application Period For Peregrine Falcon Trapping For Falconry Usage Is Underway

The 2016 application period for the trapping of a peregrine falcon to be used in falconry is underway, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced. The TWRA will award this permit to the winner of a draw to be held on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Falconers may go to TWRA’s website under the Hot Topics section and locate the print-ready application and also view the requirements. ... (click for more)

Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Free Bicycling Skills Rodeo July 23 Wrangle up your bike and helmet and come ride with us on Sat., July 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tennessee River Park - Shelter #3, 4301 Amnicola Hwy. This free bicycle skills rodeo will have multiple stations offering games and fun for all ages and skill levels. You'll learn ... (click for more)

County Schools Receive Community Gift For Almost $1 Million To Fund Public School Bible History Program

Bible in the Schools presented a community gift for nearly $1 million to the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to reimburse 100 percent of the costs of funding a Bible history program in 18 public schools for the 2015–2016 academic year. Enrollment data for 2015–2016 reported 3,582 students in grades 6–12 elected to take a Bible history classes. “This gift from the ... (click for more)

DA's Office Defends Suspended Sentence In School Bus Driver Rape Case

The District Attorney's Office defended a controversial suspended sentence in a rape case involving a substitute county school bus driver. Prosecutor Jason Demastus said the victim, who was 15 years old at the time of the March 2015 incident, was in agreement on the plea and refused to testify against Alexander Rodriquez. Rodriguez, 34, last Thursday pleaded guilty to ... (click for more)

Make America Good Again - And Response

“No people can be great, who have ceased to be virtuous.”   Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) Last week I witnessed first hand the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. As I observed the happenings within the Quicken Arena, the one theme that continued to pop up again and again, was  Make America Great Again .  Of course, that being ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jerika’s Last Dance

There is a horrifying disease called spinal muscular atrophy type 2 that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. What happens is the nerve cells in a person’s brain stem and spinal cord slowly die and, without the ability to voluntarily control your muscles, your body withers away in one of the most painful ways you can imagine. Jerika Bolen, age 14, can’t stand it any longer, nor ... (click for more)