What bird travels approximately 18,000 miles each year on a 20-inch wingspan stopping only a few times to eat?
The Red Knot!
After traveling to Quebec’s Mingan Archipelago to tag these remarkable birds just a few weeks ago, I recently received wonderful news that the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list them as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
These birds have been languishing on the Endangered Species Act “wait list” (officially called the “candidate species list”) for 8 long years because the Service lacked the resources to recover them, making this move even more critical.
(c) Fish and Wildlife Service
After an exhaustive scientific review of the Red Knot and its habitat, Service biologists determined that it is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to changing climate conditions affecting the bird’s food supply, the timing of its migration, and its breeding habitat in the Arctic, along with habitat loss due to sea level rise, shoreline projects, and development.
One of the Service’s most important conclusions was that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s management framework of horseshoe crab harvests must ensure no further threat to the Red Knot. In making this finding, the Service recognized what many Red Knot experts have known for years: that commercial harvesting of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay – a key stopover point for Red Knots during their long migration – are a contributing to population declines.
The Service expects to make a final decision on the Red Knot listing, along with a rule identifying critical habitat for the Red Knot, in 2014.