Lawsuit Launched To Protect Northeast Songbird Threatened By Climate Change

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Biknell's Thrush
Biknell's Thrush
- photo by T.B. Ryder, USFWS

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent on Tuesday to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to make a decision on the Center’s 2010 petition to protect the Bicknell’s thrush as an endangered species. The thrush breeds only high in the mountains of the Northeast and eastern Canada, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. As with many mountaintop species, climate change threatens to push the thrush’s habitat right off the top of the mountain.

“Scientists predict that 98 percent or more of Bicknell’s thrush habitat in the United States could disappear with climate change,” said Mollie Matteson, a conservation advocate at the Center’s Northeast office. “Without swift government action, this icon of our wild Northeast mountains is on track to disappear in our lifetimes.”

Bicknell’s thrushes are olive-brown, migratory birds that nest in dense, coniferous forests near timberline in the Northeast and also breed in Quebec and Canada’s Maritime provinces. Scientists identified them as a distinct species in 1993.

Last summer the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged in a “90-day finding” that the Bicknell’s thrush may warrant protection as an endangered species. By law the Service must produce a final “12-month” decision a year after a petition is filed. That decision is now more than a year overdue, and the thrush was not included in the Service’s multiyear species-recovery work plan released this fall, meaning review of the species’ status has essentially stopped.

The overriding threat to the Bicknell’s thrush is climate change. Widely accepted climate models show the species’ breeding habitat shrinking dramatically in the Northeast. If the climate of the Northeast warms by approximately 6 degrees Fahrenheit, the bird’s habitat in the United States will virtually disappear. Scientists have already documented annual population declines of up  to 19 percent in parts of the bird’s range.

“Last year was the warmest year on record in the United States, with record storms, drought and fires. The disappearance of a plucky brown bird nesting at the tops of mountains may not be as dramatic, but all these events point to a world increasingly hostile to life as we know it,” said Ms. Matteson. “Our fate is not separate from that of the thrush or of other species at risk from climate change, and we need to start acting like we know that.”


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Introduction to Mountain Biking: Skills Class Sept. 6, 9, 16 & 20 Mountain biking is so much more than just riding your bike in the woods! Outdoor Chattanooga's Introduction to Mountain Biking Program offers formal instruction to those that are new to the sport, or who want to get more out of riding. We invite ... (click for more)

Wildlife Officer Of The Year Awards Announced In East Tennessee

TWRA has named Officers Jeff Roberson and David Carpenter as Wildlife Officers of the Year in their respective law enforcement districts in East Tennessee. Receiving the honor in TWRA Law Enforcement District 41, Jeff Roberson is an eight-year veteran who has repeatedly excelled in his duties and responsibilities as a wildlife officer. Officer Roberson has also on two previous ... (click for more)

State Board In Nashville Approves New Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital

Members of the board of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency in Nashville on Wednesday unanimously approved a new $25 million Behavioral Health Hospital planned by Erlanger Health Systems on Holzclaw Avenue.   Parkridge Valley Hospital and CADAS had opposed the issuance of Certificate of Need.  The 88-bed facility will provide "acute adult inpatient ... (click for more)

Pinkston Says Offer Was Made To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Him If Prosecution Of Detective Burns Was Dropped; Judge Greenholtz "Greatly Bothered" By Any Such Offer

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said at a hearing Tuesday that an offer was made to drop a lawsuit filed against him by Gatlinburg detective Rodney Burns if he would dismiss two perjury counts against Burns. The district attorney said he should not be disqualified from continuing to prosecute the case or else attorneys would begin suing him or the judge to get a new DA or trial ... (click for more)

Downtown Needs Cleaned Up

My son and I parked on Broad Street and walked to the Billiard Club on Cherry Street this past weekend. It's probably a total of two blocks. In that short walk we passed where Rone Regency used to be on 6th Street and in that doorway was about a years worth of human feces and urine covering the doors and walls. The concrete sidewalk on the street is all broken up and the metal ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ooltewah & The Bullies

During the week of Christmas I got an email from a longtime friend at the Knoxville News-Sentinel that laughingly wondered what kind of basketball do you people play (in Chattanooga?) It included sketchy details of the rape, and subsequent surgery, of an Ooltewah High School basketball player who had been assaulted by his own teammates at a Gatlinburg holiday tournament. Today ... (click for more)