Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Red Knot to be Listed as Endangered in NJ

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to change the state's listing of Red Knot from threatened to endangered. The proposal is based on a few years of studying their population trends, but it was made more urgent by recent reports from South America:
In late February, biologists returned with sobering news from their annual trip to the bird's wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

Immense flocks of red knots once swooped over the vast tidal mudflats, rich in tiny organisms that were a nonstop banquet. In recent years the number declined to 16,000, but remained stable.

Now, the count showed the population dropping again, to between 10,000 and 11,000.

"We're dismayed," said Larry Niles, former chief of the DEP endangered-species program, now a wildlife consultant. He has led red knot research for more than a decade.

The crew of more than a dozen international researchers had hoped for an uptick because conditions on Delaware Bay last spring were so favorable. The weather held, the crabs laid their eggs, the birds feasted.

Data from netted birds showed that nearly 80 percent were at or near ideal body weight, prime for breeding.
An online version of the state's proposal is here, for anyone who wants to read and comment on it. Comments must be received by March 19. It looks like comments have to be submitted by mail even though NJDEP asks for an electronic copy.