Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ENV: NAS Most Endangered Birds

New National Audubon Society Report Lists America's 10 Most Endangered Birds
By National Audubon Society, March 28, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC - The gravest threat facing endangered bird species in the U.S. today is proposed Congressional action to weaken the protections of the Endangered Species Act, according to a report released by the National Audubon Society. "America's Top Ten Most Endangered Birds" notes that development pressures, invasive species, and global warming are threatening these bird species with extinction. The Endangered Species Act is described as "the strongest federal safeguard against the extinction of bird species in the U.S."

"Congress needs to do everything possible to save these imperiled birds before it is too late," said Betsy Loyless, Audubon's Senior Vice President for Public Policy. "Unfortunately all the effort in Congress is focused on cutting holes in the Endangered Species Act."

The report is expected to attract strong attention from conservation-minded Americans, including 46 million bird-watchers in the U.S.

Top 10 Endangered Birds & their Habitats
The birds named in the report are: Ivory-billed Woodpecker; California Condor; Whooping Crane; Gunnison Sage-Grouse; Kirtland's Warbler; Piping Plover; Florida Scrub-Jay; Ashy Storm-Petrel; Golden-cheeked Warbler; Kittlitz's Murrelet; and ten island birds of Hawaii.

Their habitats span the entire East Coast and are dotted across the nation, in Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Endangered Species Act Under Attack
Since its enactment more than 30 years ago, the Endangered Species Act has been profoundly successful in protecting species, including our national symbol, the Bald Eagle. The Endangered Species Act is a safety net that has saved dozens of species from becoming extinct. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species listed as endangered or threatened. In addition, 68 percent of listed species are stable or improving. The longer a species is listed under the Act, the more likely it is to be improving.

Audubon released the report as the Senate actively considers legislation that, if passed, would undermine the vital protections provided to endangered birds by the Endangered Species Act. In September 2005, the House passed HR 3824, sponsored by Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA). This bill, euphemistically called "The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act," eliminates protection for critical habitat; creates loopholes allowing projects to proceed regardless of impacts on endangered birds and wildlife; provides highly controversial payments to landowners as compensation for complying with the law; and includes special exemptions for pesticide manufacturers.

Ninety bird species are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Audubon Society report focuses on the most imperiled birds nationwide and appeals for efforts to ensure their survival.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.

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