Date: 4/12/18 10:24 am From: John Farmer <ajf-jlf...> Subject: RE: [birders] Feds propose dropping Kirtland's Warbler from endangered species list
This post was most timely and informative. Without it, I would have been reflexively highly critical of the KIWA de-listing. Thanks for your valuable input!
From: 'Bill Rapai' via Birders <birders...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:17 PM
Subject: Re: [birders] Feds propose dropping Kirtland's Warbler from endangered species list
Hi. It's Bill Rapai. I am both a member of this list and a member of the board of directors of the Kirtland's Warbler Alliance, which is, for lack of a better term, a "friends" group.
The alliance was formed six years ago in preparation for the delisting announcement, which many people saw as inevitable. The first conservation plan for the Kirtland's Warbler was written in 1976. It considered the population recovered when it reached 1,000 breeding pairs. (The KIWA population is now more than double that. The threshold for recovery was set so low because the KIWA population will always be self-limiting because the habitat is rare.)
This is a decision to be celebrated and supported for a couple of reasons. First, biologists know much, much more today about the warbler -- its needs for nesting habitat, its migration patterns, its winter habitat needs -- than we did 50 years ago. Even if we remove endangered species protection, we know how to maintain habitat and keep the population strong. I am a member of the Steering Committee of the Kirtland's Warbler Conservation Team and can assure you that this decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service was carefully considered and fact-based.
Here's an example of why the decision was made: We know that the threat from the brown-headed cowbird has been significantly diminished. The cowbird population is WAY DOWN over the eastern United States and presents a much smaller risk to the warbler today than it did 40 years ago. In fact, it appears that cowbird trapping in KIWA habitat will be suspended this summer Do not fear! KIWA nests will be monitored and cowbird trapping can be successfully re-instituted on short notice. It can easily put back into place if the cowbird population rebounds.
Because the population is stable and growing, it is giving biologists the opportunity to reassess what they are doing. We know what got us to this point. Now we have the opportunity to take a step back and ask, are there other ways of providing protection for the Kirtland's Warbler that are smarter, cheaper, and more efficient? That seems like a reasonable thing to do
The best thing about this decision is both the U.S. Forest Service and the Michigan DNR have pledged to continue to maintain jack pine habitat management into the future to support KIWA populations. This frees up federal endangered species dollars to go to other endangered species. There are only so many dollars -- why continue to spend on a species that appears to have a healthy, sustainable population?
Finally, my organization is in the process of raising money for an endowment that would support Kirtland's Warbler conservation efforts into the future. If you or anybody else on this list wishes to know more, I invite you to attend the annual Kirtland's Warbler Home Opener on Friday, June 1, at the Kirtland Community College Facility in Grayling. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. More information is available at <https://huronpines.org/alliance/>https://huronpines.org/alliance/.
Or you can help plant jack pines for the Kirtland's Warbler on Saturday, May 5. Happy to send you or anybody else more information on this really cool event.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed dropping legal protections for the warbler but acknowledged efforts will be needed indefinitely to preserve jack pine stands where the birds spend summers and raise their young." (my emphasis)