Black-capped Petrel Moves Closer to Federal Protection
Rare bird will be evaluated for Endangered Species Act listing
DC – The black-capped
petrel, a rare seabird, took the first step toward protection under the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) last week. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) determined that threats appear significant enough to begin a 12-month
review of the species for possible listing under the ESA.
“We’re glad the
USFWS will consider these rare birds for listing,” said Taylor Jones,
Endangered Species Advocates for WildEarth Guardians. “They face a myriad of
threats and deserve the strongest protections we can give them.”
petrel, named for its distinct black crown, nests in colonies with its nests
perched in crevices or burrows in steep mountain cliffs. There are only 12
remaining breeding colonies, located in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
petrel is nocturnal, and feeds on squid and fish in its maritime foraging
grounds, centered in the South Atlantic Bight
between North Carolina and Florida.
USFWS found that
the black-capped petrel’s narrow foraging habitat is threatened by offshore energy
development. These birds are attracted to oily surfaces to feed, so an oil
spill would be deadly for them. On land the species is threatened by habitat
destruction due to deforestation and agriculture. It faces predation by
introduced species such as cats, dogs, and opossums, and is also hunted for
food by local people. In addition, the birds may die from collisions with telecommunication infrastructure or structures associated
with oilrigs. The USFWS, citing these threats, announced that the species
warranted a 12-month review on June 21.
Guardians petitioned this rare bird on September 1, 2011, the 97th anniversary of
the death of “Martha,” the last passenger pigeon. The conservation group
commemorates Passenger Pigeon Day every year by acting to advance protections
for imperiled birds.
pigeon is gone but not forgotten,” said Jones. “Hopefully we can memorialize
its passing by inspiring action for other bird species like the black-capped
petrel so that they might avoid the passenger pigeon’s fate.”
the ESA would help protect the species from threats such as off-shore energy
development. Listed migratory species that spend part of the year in the U.S.
also benefit from the development of recovery plans under the ESA. Listing
would also support conservation efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.