Date: 6/29/18 1:05 pm
From: Joe Liebezeit <jliebezeit...>
Subject: [obol] Re: [boo] Re: [birding] USFWS issues 90-day findings for petition to list "Oregon" Vesper Sparrow as Threatened/Endangered
Hi Joel,

Your points about citizen science are well taken. I would point out that
any science (whether citizen science or by formal researchers) can be
misused by groups that may have interests opposed to conservation. A very
recent example in our own backyard is the recent decision by the ODFW
Commission to reverse the Marbled Murrelet uplisting decision.


Joe Liebezeit
Avian Conservation Program Manager
Audubon Society of Portland
5151 NW Cornell Road
Portland, OR 97210

On Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 8:40 PM, Joel Geier <joel.geier...> wrote:

> Hi Jim (& all),
> I should clarify, "Oregon" vesper sparrow is not currently listed as
> either threatened or endangered by the USFWS, though I think they're listed
> as endangered in Canada (British Columbia) and, at the state level, in
> Washington. The petition by American Bird Conservancy makes a scientific
> argument for federal listing as endangered or at least as threatened.
> Our separate comments on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo *delisting* petition
> must have crossed in the wires. The role of birders as "citizen scientists"
> is a thorny issue. I see this as a cautionary tale, as to how
> "citizen-science" data can be misused for purposes that voluntary
> contributors of data probably never intended.
> I agree that documenting "absence in suitable habitat" would be useful,
> but this may require a bit of a shift in birding culture. I can think of
> birders who looked hard for particular species just to make a point (for
> example, Alan Contreras' one-time crusade to show how many Fox Sparrows
> could be found in a couple hundred yards of hedgerow). We all get a kick
> out of finding birds in "atypical" habitat.
> It's fun to find exceptions to the rules. But it's not always helpful for
> conservation, especially in an environment when anti-conservation groups
> can easily access our birding reports, and use them to argue (as in the
> case of Yellow-billed Cuckoos) that designated critical habitat isn't all
> that critical.
> On Wed, 2018-06-27 at 19:58 -0700, <alderspring...> wrote:
> Thank you Joel, the American Bird Conservancy and the handful of other NW birders who've helped convince USFWS to review the status of the current threatened listing of Oregon Vesper Sparrow and to consider whether uplisting to endangered is warranted.
> This same Federal Register announcement also finds that multiple petitioners have convinced USFWS to consider delisting the western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo (west of Rockies from B.C. southward).
> Documentation from birders, which might include finding--or more especially not finding--these birds in suitable habitat at the proper season, could help in future conservation of these species.
> Jim Fairchild

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