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CONSERVATION CORNER 2006

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Philadelphia Green Space Plan
Cerulean Warbler Status
Christmas Bird Counts
Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware
Bird Stamps
Update on Peregrine Falcon Nesting
Project Feederwatch
National Wildlife Refuge Week
Red Knots - ESA List
Attraction Techniques for Terns
Bald Eagles in Pennsylvania
Fate of Red Knots
Wade Island

Conservation Corner - a running list of issues of interest to our members.

Philadelphia Plans Green Space
by Debbie Beer (Posted 12/21/06)


Core Creek - © A Binns

Urban dwellers may think that Green Space is something that occurs mainly in the suburbs, but Philadelphia offers a lot of this precious resource right in the city. The challenge lies in preserving this open green space as an environmental, social and economic resource for residents and visitors, in light of increasing pressures for commercial development.

Funded by The City of Philadelphia, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and The William Penn Foundation, GreenPlan Philadelphia is dedicated to promoting significant open space in the city, for recreation or conservation purposes. There are many partners in this project, including: City Parks Associations, Keystone Conservation Trust, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Fish & Wildlife and more (as listed on their website).

Philadelphia has much to lose if more of our remaining open spaces are not preserved. It is essential for the city government to understand the extreme value of open space, and take action to preserve and manage it appropriately. Fairmount Park is a great example of valuable open space that is utilized and enjoyed by residents and visitors. Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia is just one example of city open space that is as important to winter waterfowl and migrating songbirds, as it is to weekend joggers and ball players.

GreenPlan Philadelphia is an open space planning process that will provide a long-term roadmap for using, acquiring, developing, funding, and managing open space in the city’s neighborhoods. The initiative began in Spring 2006, and is currently at the phase 1 level of community engagement, which includes community meetings, launching the website, and various information gathering activities.

Although the formal, scheduled meetings are now over, residents of Philadelphia can still play an important role in providing input to this planning effort. In fact, it is vital for those of us who value open space to contribute our opinions to the open space committee. People are encouraged to register their opinions about open space issues by completing an online survey at the GreenPlan Philadelphia website below. For more information, contact DVOC member Keith Russell . Log on today to make your opinions count. http://www.greenplanphiladelphia.com.


Cerulean Warbler Denied Threatened Species Status
by Debbie Beer (Posted 12/11/06)

It is the fastest declining warbler in the country. Its numbers have dropped over 80% throughout its U.S. range in the last 40 years, dropping even more in the past decade. Mountaintop removal mining is expected to significantly increase in the core area of the bird’s range.

The statistics are sad, but apparently not sad enough to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to take action. After a six year delay in responding to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, the agency has finally issued its decision not to list the Cerulean Warbler as a Threatened Species. The decision, issued December 5, further imperils the songbird, whose numbers have dropped more than 80% in 40 years.

In 2000, 28 groups, including National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and regional conservation organizations petitioned the USFWS to list the Cerulean Warbler as a Threatened Species, citing the steep decline in population and the growing threats to its summer breeding habitat in higher-elevation deciduous forests, including logging, sprawl development and mountaintop removal mining.

These organizations and many citizens are extremely concerned about the perilous future of the Cerulean, without the comprehensive protections provided to Threatened Species.

“It’s a tragedy that the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t step up and act now, before this songbird moves any closer toward extinction,” said DJ Gerken, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing the conservation groups.

“The birding community is greatly concerned because the Cerulean has been declining throughout its range for such a long period of time,” said Greg Butcher, Ph.D., Director of Bird Conservation with Audubon. He said the bird has declined an average of 6 percent per year over the last eight years, compared to an annual average of 4.3 percent from 1966 to 2004.

Robyn Thorson, Midwest Regional Director for USFWS said, “We have done an exhaustive review of information, and have consulted national and international experts on this species… Based on that input, the species is unlikely to be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.” She acknowledges, “Even though the cerulean warbler does not meet the criteria for listing as an endangered or threatened species, it is still a bird that needs our attention and help.”

The Cerulean Warbler is number one (the highest priority) on the list of 15 songbirds identified by The Partners in Flight program as priority species for conservation. Ceruleans are most affected by the forest fragmentation and loss of habitat associated with mountaintop mining, because they favor the steep slopes and ridge tops targeted by mountaintop removal. More than 70 percent of breeding Cerulean Warblers are found in the Ohio Hills and Cumberland Plateau, regions targeted by mountaintop mining. Cerulean Warblers are also breeding in localized areas of eastern Pennsylvania, including Bucks County.

Conservation groups say they will continue their efforts to protect the Cerulean Warbler, including a possible legal challenge to the agency decision, continued tracking and documentation of the bird’s population, advocating improved logging practices that do the least damage to Cerulean habitat, and seeking habitat protection on national forest lands.

Additional information available on these websites:
http://www.audubon.org/news/press_releases/Cerulean_Warbler_12_07_06.htm
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/CEWAP/

http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/showNews.cfm?newsId=599F788D-C858-FA6E-987564BFBF986CA2


 

Christmas Bird Counts
by Debbie Beer (Posted 12/8/06)

It may not feel like science, tromping through a frozen field or woods on a snowy morning, but the data collected during the annual Christmas Bird Count is an important scientific and conservation resource to professionals and lay people.

Organized over 100 years ago by Frank Chapman, the CBC has evolved from an alternative to shooting raptors, to an international, National Audubon Society (NAS) event encompassing over 50,000 volunteers counting birds for three or four weeks. The CBC is the longest-running ornithological database available, providing important data about bird populations, trends, distributions, habitat threats and rare findings. CBC data is being used to study and monitor the West Nile Virus.

The 107th Christmas Bird Count takes place December 14, 2006 through January 5, 2007, covering over 2,000 local CBC sections. The National Audubon Society divides North, Central and South America into small sections managed by Compilers. It is no small responsibility for Compilers to decide the count date for his/her section, notify and organize participants, gather and compile the data, and submit lots of information to NAS on-line. Some Compilers even orchestrate post-count parties, to swap stories and toast a long-standing holiday tradition!

Many dedicated members of DVOC are active in Christmas Bird Counts, leading sections and participating in counting. A list of local CBC’s is posted on our website at [DVOC web link here]. Volunteers of every level are needed and encouraged. Contact any of the section leaders or Compilers on the list, and enjoy a rewarding (probably chilly) day of birding, while making an important contribution to conservation.

Click Here for a list of Christmas Bird Counts in the Delaware Valley

 

 


Horseshoe Crab Harvest Halted in Delaware
by Debbie Beer (Posted 12/8/06)

Red Knots remain in the limelight with help from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). On November 20, DNREC announced a two-year moratorium on the harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware waters, effective December 11, 2006.

DNREC Secretary, John Hughes states in the press release, “The red knots are at risk and the only thing in the world we can do is to make certain that every egg from every female horseshoe crab that spawns on our beaches is fertilized.” The moratorium is implemented as a protective measure for the Horseshoe Crabs and the associated migratory bird populations that depend on the resource for food. The steep decline of the Red Knot mirrors the over harvesting of the Horseshoe Crab in the Delaware Bay and elsewhere.

The decision also emphasizes the importance of finding an alternative to using Horseshoe Crabs as bait for eel and conch fisheries. DNREC is financially supporting a University of Delaware study to find such an alternative.

The plight of Red Knots has attracted much-needed attention this year. In May 2006, New Jersey imposed its own two-year moratorium, essentially protecting both sides of the Delaware Bay. In the same month, the nonprofit Conservation Fund purchased a 73-acre parcel of sand and rock known as Mispillion Harbor, for protection of critical horseshoe crab spawning ground. In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its decision to designate the species as a candidate for the Endangered Species list. Unfortunately candidacy does little for the Red Knot rufa subspecies, which some scientists fear might go extinct by 2010 if the current downward trend continues.

Of course Red Knot populations are not restricted to New Jersey and Delaware, and the bird’s fate remains precarious.

 


Bird Stamps Support Conservation Efforts
by Debbie Beer (Posted 11/14/06)

While stamp collectors may jump at the chance to augment their collections with new designs, birders could consider it a chance to support conservation efforts just by posting monthly bills. Two new stamp designs offer opportunities for both obsessive types of hobbyists! Two bird species - Cerulean Warbler and Ivory-billed Woodpecker – are artfully rendered on new stamps available from American Bird Conservancy. The purchase of these 39-cent USPS postage stamps helps support the conservation efforts of this hard-working organization, whose mission is to conserve wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. Click on www.abcbirds.org to place your order today.

Continuing with the long-standing tradition of publishing bird-themed stamps, the US Post Office has recently issued the latest in the “Nature of North America” series, featuring South Florida wetlands. This is the 8th set of stamps designed as an educational series promoting appreciation of North America’s major plant and animal communities. The series began in 1999 with Sonoran Desert and has been followed each year with Pacific Coast Rain Forest (2000), Great Plains Prairie (2001), Long Leaf Forest (2002), Arctic Tundra (2003), Pacific Coral Reef (2004) and Northeast Deciduous Forest (2005). Among the 10 stamps depicted on this beautiful scenic painting by John Dawson are Snail Kite, Wood Stork, Bald Eagle, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. While money from the purchase of the series is not going directly towards these communities, the distribution of the stamps helps promote and increase awareness of the natural wealth and diversity that can be found in these habitats. A great way to educate and spread awareness would be to mail your holiday cards with one of these stamps on the envelope.

 


Update on Peregrine Falcon Nesting in Pennsylvania, 2006 by Art McMorris (Posted 10/20/06)


Mom defending her turf at the Ben Franklin Bridge. © Art McMorris

I have been working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission on the Peregrine Falcon restoration project for the last 3 years (since 2003). Working with Dan Brauning, the project director, I monitor and band Peregrines in southeastern PA and coordinate activities statewide. I'm following in the footsteps of Matt Sharp, who did the same thing for 5 years before me, and Ed Fingerhood, who preceded Matt. Matt still helps out with banding, and I rely on a large number of volunteer observers across the state whose help is indispensable.

Pennsylvania's Peregrine Falcons had a banner year in 2006. 16 nest sites were occupied, and breeding was successful at 13 of these sites, producing 42 young, a record in the post-DDT era. The previous high count was 35 young in 2003, so this year's productivity tops that by 20%! So things are definitely moving in the right direction.

However, there's a long way to go. Although the Peregrine Falcon has largely recovered nationally and was taken off the US Endangered Species list in 1999, the population in Pennsylvania is still only one third of its historical level. Therefore, the Peregrine Falcon remains on Pennsylvania's endangered species list. Moreover, the population in PA looks very different today than it did historically. Prior to the DDT era (which was from the mid-1940's until the banning of DDT in 1972 and the start of Peregrine Falcon re- introductions in the mid-1970's), all but one of the Peregrine Falcon nests in PA were at natural sites (that is, cliffs). Today, there are only two active cliff nests in PA. All the rest are on man-made structures: bridges, tall buildings and smokestacks. Thus, Peregrines are virtually absent from their natural breeding areas in Pennsylvania. Dan Brauning and I share the view of many other biologists that the Peregrine Falcon will not have really recovered in the state until it repopulates its natural breeding areas.

About half of the Peregrine Falcon nest sites in PA are in the southeastern corner of the state. The 16 known nest sites in PA are on 6 bridges spanning the Delaware River (the PA/NJ Turnpike connector bridge in Bristol, and the Tacony-Palmyra, Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman and Commodore Barry bridges), the Schuylkill Expressway bridge across the Schuylkill River near the Penn campus, the Girard Point (I-95) bridge near the Philadelphia airport, the Market St. bridge in Wilkes-Barre, the Rachel Carson state office building in Harrisburg, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg (on the reactor containment building!), the Gulf Tower and the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning buildings in Pittsburgh, the Martin's Creek PPL power plant in Martin's Creek (on a smokestack), and on cliffs at Campbell's Ledge north of Wilkes-Barre and in Montgomery near Williamsport. The birds on the Delaware River bridges sometimes move their nests back and forth between the PA and NJ sides of the river; two of these pairs bred on the NJ side this year (their 6 young are included in the total of 42). Last year the pair that had previously occupied Philadelphia City Hall (the only nest site on a man-made structure in PA in the pre-DDT era) moved their nest to the Schuylkill Expressway bridge. Peregrines have been seen at several other locations but nesting has not been confirmed.

This year, Peregrines bred successfully and fledged young at 13 of these 16 sites. The nests at the Tacony-Palmyra, Schuylkill Expressway and Commodore Barry bridges were unsuccessful. A 17th site, a cliff at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, was occupied by a pair of Peregrines in 2003 and 2004, but was abandoned early in 2005 before the start of the nesting season. Peregrines bred at this site before the DDT era but have not bred successfully there in recent years.

It is quite possible that Peregrines are nesting at one or more cliff sites in PA that haven't been discovered yet. Before the DDT era there were over 40 occupied cliff sites, primarily on cliffs along the Delaware, Susquehanna and Juniata rivers. Finding a new cliff nest would make an enjoyable birding challenge and would be a very important contribution to our understanding of the Peregrine population today. The best time to look would be in March or early April, when the birds are conspicuously doing courtship displays and defending their territories in preparation for nesting. If you see anything, please let me know!

 

 


Project FeederWatch Winter Bird Survey by Debbie Beer (Posted 10/19/06)

A day never passes that I don’t look at my backyard birdfeeder. Even when my schedule is crazy with commitments, I find a moment to glance out the window and marvel at the flurry of activity. On freezing mornings, I feel sorry for the birds standing in the snow or waiting their turn hunkered down in nearby shrubs.

Project FeederWatch is the perfect way to turn these idle moments into an important action for conservation. I’m looking at them anyway, so why not count them and report the data for important scientific study? Anyone with an interest in birds and a few minutes a week can participate in this winter-long survey. From November through April, participants count species and email the numbers to Project FeederWatch. The project is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds, watching birds in backyards, schools and nature centers.

Bird enthusiasts sign-up for Project FeederWatch and pay a small annual participation fee. The fee covers the materials, newsletter, staff support, website design and data analysis. Kits are shipped about 3 weeks after signing-up, including instructions on how and when to count the birds. Participants count birds that appear in the count site (feeder or birdbath), and note the highest number of individuals viewed at one time. (The process ensures that the same bird is not counted more than once). Participants report all data via website or on paper forms.

Project FeederWatch has evolved from a small project in Ontario Canada, to a large-scale cooperative research project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada (formerly the Long Point Bird Observatory), the National Audubon Society, and the Canadian Nature Federation. When thousands of FeederWatchers send information to a database, the results are amazing. Scientists from Cornell and other organizations use this valuable information to analyze the big-picture of winter bird populations and distribution. Project FeederWatch results are also published in scientific journals and shared with ornithologists and bird lovers nationwide.

If you can commit a small amount of time weekly to count birds at your backyard feeder, consider participating in Project FeederWatch. The data you collect can really make a difference. For more information or to sign-up, go to www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw


National Wildlife Refuge Week by Debbie Beer (Posted 10/8/06)

National Wildlife Refuge week is October 8-14. Support the important role refuges play in conserving wildlife species by visiting our local refuges. Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in Brigantine NJ, John Heinz NWR at Tinicum in Philadelphia PA, and Bombay Hook NWR near Smyrna DE are just three of the nation's 540+ sites that host a variety of birds and other wildlife, especially during the fall migration.


© A Binns


Red Knots Candidate for ESA List is Not Enough by Debbie Beer (Posted 10/6/06)

The decision to designate the Red Knots as a candidate for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection might be too little, too late. The September 2006 announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is a move that will likely doom the species to extinction, according to a coalition of environmental groups seeking protection for the rare migratory shorebird.

Candidate species do not receive any ESA protection – only designated species do. This fine line may mean the difference between survival and extinction for Red Knots. Some people believe the population-decline scenarios could have the species completely gone by 2010. Currently there are about 280 plant and animal species on the candidate list, with each assigned a listing priority. Species have been known to remain in the “waiting room” of candidacy for years.

The Red Knot undertakes one of the longest migrations of any bird, wintering in the southern reaches of Argentina, and nesting in Arctic Canada. The over-harvesting of horseshoe crabs, the birds’ primary fuel source, has been the main reason for severe population declines. Red Knots are less able to breed successfully, because they are not getting enough horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their long migration.

The USFWS acknowledges the need to protect the shorebird, but it stops short of proposing the bird for protection under the Act. The USFWS believes that conservation actions initiated by New Jersey and Delaware have reduced threats to Red Knots, and that recent numbers of the shorebirds there and at their South American wintering grounds indicate a stabilization in the declining population trend. The agency admits, “Protection… is warranted but precluded by other, higher priority activities.”

The debate centers on the degree to which the species is in decline, and if current conservation efforts are adequate. While the conservation efforts of New Jersey and Delaware may have positive short-term impacts, one may doubt if it’s enough to reverse the overall trend of decline. Eric Stiles, Vice President for Conservation and Stewardship for the New Jersey Audubon Society said that “Study after study has shown the federal Endangered Species Act works. Listed species are more likely to recover.” Mike Parr, Vice President for American Bird Conservancy, added, “Unless listing happens soon, it will be too late for recovery efforts to bring the species back….the costs of saving the species will only increase if its decline is allowed to continue.”

It's “an effective tool for preventing extinction” said Noah Greenwald, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, “But it can only save the species if they're actually designated as threatened or endangered.”

Environmental and conservation groups continue to press for the Red Knot to be listed as a federally Endangered Species, utilizing all resources necessary, including lawsuits and petitions as appropriate.

Independently, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) is working to define conservation strategies and needed action for shorebird species of highest concern, including the Red Knot. Once peer-review is completed, the final plan will be posted at WHSRN’s website: www.whsrn.org

For more information, go to the following websites:
www.njaudubon.org/AboutNJAS/RedKnot9-12-06.pdf
www.fws.gov/northeast/redknot


© A Binns



Attraction Techniques for Terns by Debbie Beer (posted 10/6/06)

Threatened Roseate Terns may have a rosier outlook, based on successful results from a recent experiment. After last year’s hurricanes (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma) decimated Pelican Shoal, a traditional breeding site south of Key West, a plan was hatched to entice Roseate Terns to flock and breed at Dry Tortugas National Park.


© A Binns

State Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists Ricardo Zambrano and Sharyn Hood, working in cooperation with National Park staff, placed 40 plastic-dummy Roseate Terns around a newly exposed sandy zone at the park in April. The decoys were outfitted with multiple solar-powered compact disc players, amplifiers, and water-resistant speakers that constantly played Roseate Tern calls.

Modeled after similar successful “social attraction techniques” in Maine and other places, the Florida staff thought their experiment may prove fruitful in three or four years. Researchers were thrilled to find over 30 Roseate Tern nests while checking the site in July. A number of young birds have fledged and taken off for South America.

“Good news is important when it comes to imperiled species, and it is great when we get to share a success story,” said FWC Executive Director Ken Haddad. “I am thrilled to report that because of the diligence and ingenuity of FWC staff and with help from the National Park Service, the threatened roseate tern has a better chance of survival.”

Before being demolished by storms, Pelican Shoal was one of only two sites in Florida where Roseate Terns nested regularly. The other colony is at Marathon, mid way down the Florida Keys. Although the results were surprisingly quick, the FWC and National Park Service will continue to employ this seasonal equipment until they are certain the Terns have established the Dry Tortugas site as a permanent nesting colony.


Bald Eagles rebounding in Pennsylvania by Debbie Beer (Posted 7/14/06)

When Pennsylvania officials began a program in 1983 to re-establish the state’s Bald Eagle population, only 3 pairs of birds nested within the Commonwealth. Now, thanks to the collaborative efforts of federal and state agencies, conservation organizations and the public, the Bald Eagle’s future is brighter than ever.



© A Binns

State officials recently announced that that there are over 100 Bald Eagle nests in Pennsylvania, the highest number in over a century. According to Greg Butcher, Director of Bird Conservation at the National Audubon Society, “Pennsylvania is just a bellwether for every state… it’s been a great couple of decades for eagles all across the country.” Alaska hosts more than 90% of the nation’s population, with about 100,000 Bald Eagles. Florida has over 1,100 breeding pairs, and Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington each have more than 500 breeding pairs, accordingly to US Fish and Wildlife Service data.

Bald Eagles didn’t always have the public support they enjoy today. For much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, eagles were considered a threat and a nuisance, and were routinely shot by hunters, farmers and fishermen. The 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act outlawed the shooting of eagles. Even with the Bald Eagle Protection Act, Bald Eagle numbers continued to dwindle due to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT after WWII. DDT not only lethally poisoned many birds, but resulted in thin egg walls. So thin were the egg walls that they could not adequately protect the developing chick; many were crushed by the weight of the nesting parents. Coupled with the banning of DDT in 1972, the Endangered Species Act was passed the following year, and Bald Eagles began their storied recovery.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) launched a reintroduction program in 1983, starting with the release of wild eaglets from Canada. Their efforts dovetailed with improvements in water quality, and successful eagle recovery projects in neighboring states. The PGC annually monitors Bald Eagle nests to measure nesting population trends. Since 1990, more than 500 eaglets have taken flight from nests in the state. Census data shows that the eagles are nesting in 31 of the state’s 67 counties. Bald Eagles thrive around bodies of water where food supplies are ample, and human disturbances are minimal. Seasonally, numerous Bald Eagles can be found along the Delaware River, the lower Susquehanna River, the Poconos and other concentrated areas in PA. These impressive birds of prey can weigh up to 14 pounds, and sport seven-foot wingspans.

Originally listed as an “endangered” species, Bald Eagles were upgraded to a “threatened” species federally in 1995, and by Pennsylvania in 2005. It is anticipated that Bald Eagles may be removed from the threatened species list within the next year or so, though they would continue to remain protected by the Bald Eagle Protection Act and other federal and state laws.

Note websites for additional information: www.pgc.state.pa.us; www.audubon.org; www.fws.gov.


 

The Uncertain Fate of Red Knots by Debbie Beer (Posted 6/2/06)

Each year, hundreds and thousands of shorebirds, including Red Knots, descend upon the Delaware Bay to gorge on horseshoe crab eggs. These shorebirds and others rely on the fat-rich eggs to fuel their Spring migration flight to their arctic breeding grounds. The Delaware Bay is one of the most important shorebird migration sites in the world, with some of the largest concentrations in North America. The bay also hosts the world’s largest remaining spawning population of horseshoe crabs.

Unfortunately, if current trends continue, the Red Knot could go extinct by 2010, according to Joanna Wolaver of NJ Audubon Society, in an article dated April 2006. The overharvest of horseshoe crabs for eel and conch bait during the 1990’s have reduced the number of horseshoe crab eggs to dangerously low levels. The reduction in eggs has resulted in a huge decline in shorebird population numbers as well as weight gain (or lack of) in recent years.

The Red Knots in the Delaware Bay area declined from over 100,000 in the 1980’s to 15,000 in 2005, the most drastic decline noted among shorebirds globally. Based on these declines, leading scientists predict that the Red Knot rufa subspecies will be at or near extinction by 2010. Findings suggest that additional shorebirds such as Ruddy Turnstones and Semipalmated Sandpipers are facing similar declines, linked to the reduced number of horseshoe crab eggs available to sustain the birds during migration.

The good news is that the advocacy efforts of NJ Audubon Society and its coalition partners might be paying off. On May 15, the NJ Dept of Environmental Protection (DEP) implemented a 2-year moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs. This action addresses the immediate threat to Red Knot populations and should allow the horesehoe crab populations to significantly recover.

In more good news, a 73-acre bit of sand, mud and rock has been purchased by the nonprofit Conservation Fund for permanent habitat protection. The Mispillion Harbor purchase, announced 5/24/06, protects an important spawning area for horseshoe crabs and a critical stopover point for migrating Red Knots and other shorebirds. This area in coastal Delaware is considered to be one of the most significant shorebird migration stopovers in the world. Crab harvesting won’t be permitted by the new owners, said Blaine T. Phillips Jr., Mid-Atlantic director of the Conservation Fund. The land is especially important as some estimates calculate that up to 80% of Red Knots in the area stop at Mispillion Harbor to feed and rest.

However, more encompassing regional provisions must be put in place to ensure the overall survival of the Red Knot. The Atlantic States Marines Fisheries commission failed to adopt the 2-year moratorium, opting for less-restrictive measures, and a delay on their effective dates. NJ Audubon will continue to work with partners in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia to adopt more region-wide conservation strategies. In addition, it is critical to the species survival that the Red Knot rufa subspecies be listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act.


WADE ISLAND EGRETS, NIGHT-HERONS AND CORMORANTS - by Debbie Beer (Posted 5/25/06)

Wade Island, located in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg PA, is home to the state's largest nesting colony of black-crowned night-herons and great egrets, both listed on the PA endangered species list. Currently, more than 100 night-heron and 150 great egret nests are on Wade Island.

Double-Crested Cormorants, whose numbers are steadily increasing, also nest in colonies on Wade Island. All three species are competing for a limited supply of resources - food and nesting sites - on Wade Island.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission, who is responsible for managing all of the state's wildlife species, is concerned about the impact of the Double-Crested Cormorants on the breeding egrets and night-herons. Attempts to entice the egrets and night-herons to nest on other nearby islands have not been successful. In a press-release of 4/20/06, the PA Game Commission stated, "... lethal removal of the cormorants was determined to be the safest, least-disruptive, most cost-efficient and promising control method"
for this problem. Under permit, USDA Wildlife Service biologists/technicians plan to remove up to 50 cormorants (not to exceed 75 percent of the cormorant population) from Wade Island. Extreme care will be taken not to disturb the endangered species nesting on the island.