Saturday, 11 April 2009
Sarah Palin's endangered Alaska
Sarah Palin's administration has rejected a request to list an Alaska seabird as a state endangered species.
Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd said by letter Thursday it would be premature to list Kittlitz's murrelets because there is insufficient information to determine that their numbers have decreased so much that their existence is threatened, the requirement for listing under Alaska law.
Center for Biological Diversity biologist Shay Wolfe said the decision ignores surveys that have documented heavy declines of 80 to 90 percent of Kittlitz's murrelets in core areas of their range. The decision defies science, reason and the law, she said Friday by phone from San Francisco.
"For the Palin administration to claim that there is 'insufficient information' to conclude that the Kittlitz's murrelet is declining is equivalent to saying there is insufficient information to conclude the Earth is round," Wolfe said. (ADN)
The Kittlitz's Murrelet is considered to be critically endangered by the World Conservation Union.
The Alaskan population was estimated to number 9,000-25,000 birds in 2002. Surveys in much of the Alaskan range indicate that populations have declined by 80-90% during the past 15 years.
There have been strong links made between this species's decline and areas of glacial recession (possibly as a result of climate change). Other threats include habitat degradation and repeated disturbance of birds owing to recreational and commercial tour-boat traffic; mortality in gill-net fisheries (documented in Prince William Sound; anecdotal accounts from elsewhere); mortality from petroleum contamination (7-15% of the Prince William Sound population died as result of the ExxonValdez oil spill); and a change in prey species abundance adversely affecting piscivorous fish. Near-zero productivity in 1996-1998 for unknown reasons may lead to further future declines. (BirdLife Factsheet)
It's a pity this little bird is not as spectacular as the polar bear, but surely the species has as much right to survival as any other... not in Alaska, where there's no climate change, no endangered species, the Earth is flat, created 6,000 years ago and oil is king!
Report from ADN
Data from BirdLife