Tag Archives: Marbled murrelet

Marbled murrelet to be reviewed again for de-listing

UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2008

There’s a nuance in today’s Federal Register notice that may be encouraging to those who believe the marbled murrelet should remain listed under the Endangered Species List.

The petitioners cited a five-year review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that found that the U.S. population of murrelets failed to meet a key requirement called “discreteness.” You may read the analysis for yourself in the Federal Register, which includes this: “The Service now believes that the discreteness analysis in the 5-year review was flawed … “

The bottom line is that the petition might support de-listing, based on the five-year review. Yet the agency’s own five-year review contains a major flaw. Thus de-listing may not be warranted, which is why the Fish and Wildlife Service is basically calling for a “do-over” in a full status review.


A proposal to remove the marbled murrelet from the Endangered Species List is back on the table. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will conduct a 12-month review of the status of the small seabird that nests in old-growth forests.

Marbled murrelet // U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This 12-month review is the second since 2003 and results from a petition from the American Forest Resource Council, which filed a lawsuit to undertake the first review five years ago.

Petitioners — which also include the Carpenters Industrial Council, Oregon’s Douglas County and Ron Stuntzner —cite findings from the previous review in support of their position. They say the findings show that the Northwest murrelet population does not satisfy requirements as a “distinct population segment” under the ESA.

The 2004 review stated that the Fish and Wildlife Service would complete a rangewide status review before considering whether to de-list the murrelet. That review will be undertaken simultaneously with the new review.

The service is soliciting information about:

  • Discreteness and significance of the marbled murrelet in California, Oregon and Washington in light of our distinct population segment (DPS) policy (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996) and in other portions of its range,
  • How regulatory protections in the U.S. compare with Canada.
  • The status, distribution, or population trends of the marbled murrelet throughout all or significant portions of its range;
  • Ongoing conservation measures, and
  • Threats to the murrelet and its habitat.

There’s a lot of history and background to this story. Check out the Fish and Wildlife Service’s page on the murrelet or download a chronology of legal decisions and rulings (PDF 12 kb).

The timber industry would like to see the murrelet de-listed if possible, because it affects the cost of doing business. From a June 29, 2007, newsletter (PDF 132 kb) from the American Forest Resource Council:

The FWS has released a draft analysis estimating the potential costs related to designating marbled murrelet critical habitat, which could be between $69.4 million to $1.4 billion over the next 20 years.

The Service proposed to designate 221,692 acres of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet on state and private lands, while exempting another 3,368,950 acres on federal lands because these areas are already being managed in a way that protects the species. If these acres were not exempted the costs increase by $1.2 billion, in current dollars, over the next 20 years.

American Bird Conservancy offers its perspective on the new review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Earthjustice offers this commentary on the uncertain future of the murrelet.