Feds to review status of seabird

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2008

LACEY, Wash. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday it will review the protected status of the marbled murrelet in response to a petition from the timber industry and others.

Several groups, including the American Forest Resource Council and Douglas County, Ore., have asked the agency to remove the bird from the federal list of protected species.

The review is the latest in a long-running battle over marbled murrelets - small seabirds that nest in old-growth timber.

The birds are found from California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, but only the population in Washington, Oregon and California is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The 12-month review will determine whether the birds should be delisted or whether they also need protection in Alaska, said Joan Jewett, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

"We feel it's overdue," said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council. "An overall status review is the best way to go."

The seabird was declared an endangered species in 1992 after conservationists sued the government.

"The science and the biologists, all of it shows that murrelets are in trouble. They're declining and the population needs the protection," said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm.

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