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Environment & Climate Change

Some good news for endangered birds

Piping plover
Piping plover.

There’s some good news for birds on the endangered species list.

A new report by the American Bird Conservancy says 78% of the birds listed as threatened or endangered are now stable, increasing, or have recovered enough to be taken off the list (think: Bald Eagle). The group analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Steve Holmer is the senior policy advisor for the conservancy. He says two of the recovering species live in the Great Lakes region.

“One is the piping plover, which is a shore bird... it nests right along the beach, and so for that reason it’s been very vulnerable to development and recreation and predators, and so protecting the nesting grounds has really been the big challenge," he says. "But since it was listed in 1985, the number has gone from 19 nesting pairs in the Great Lakes region up to 75 pairs in 2015."

Holmer says the Kirtland’s warbler is another success story.

“Since it was listed, the number has gone up from 201 singing males up to 2,365 in 2015, and so... if that trend line is able to continue and the type of habitat management it needs is able to be put in place on a permanent basis, you continue that trend and you recover the species and ultimately can take it off the list," he says.

The report notes that by the time a species is listed, things are pretty dire, and it can take a long time for a species to recover.

“And that’s something if you really get into the guts of the recovery plans, you can see how long they anticipate it’ll take for many species," says Holmer. "Sometimes it can take decades in order to get enough habitat back to raise their number to a sufficient level. In the case of the Kirtland’s warbler, it’s actually a question of on-going management, where their habitat is really limited so it’s critical that small amount of habitat be maintained."