In early April the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reopened the public comment period on its proposal to list the rufa Red Knot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In some areas, Red Knot populations have decreased by about 75 percent since the 1980s, with the steepest declines occurring after 2000.
Manomet works with regional, national and international partners to assess threats to rufa Red Knot populations, collect and publish data, and outline metrics for recovery.
“The Red Knot has been a focal species of Manomet’s shorebird research since the 1980s, when Manomet Biologist Brian Harrington first brought its migration story to the public eye,” said Brad Winn, Manomet’s director of shorebird habitat management.
Red Knots have one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom, some flying nearly 20,000 miles annually from wintering grounds in Argentina to breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic and back. They rely on just a handful of migratory staging sites along this route, and the availability of food resources at those sites is critically important.
Red Knots make migratory stopovers at sites along the Atlantic coast of North America, from Florida to the Delaware Bay. The Atlamaha River in Georgia and the Delaware Bay (both WHSRN sites) are among the most important Red Knot staging areas.
Following an analysis of data from more than 1,400 scientific documents, the USFWS initially proposed to list the Red Knot as threatened under the ESA on September 30, 2013. The proposal was available for public comment until November 29, 2013, and the USFWS received more than 560 comments and 19,000 form letters during this period.
The comment period for the proposed rule was reopened on April 4, 2014 and will remain open through May 19, 2014. Comments provided during the first comment period are already part of the administrative record and do not need to be resubmitted.
In response to requests to hold public hearings, information sessions and public hearings were held early this month in Morehead City, North Carolina, and in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Public participation and awareness on this issue are very important,” said Winn. “The proposal is a giant step for the protection of this emblematic shorebird species, and proponents of this federal protection should weigh in during this time.”
The USWFS expects to take final action on the listing rule by the end of September 2014. As required by the ESA, the USFWS is also reviewing the U.S. range of the Red Knot and plans to publish a separate rule proposing critical habitat in 2014.
For more information on the USFWS proposal and the public comment period, visit http://www.fws.gov/northeast/redknot/.
Click here for more information on how to submit comments on the proposal.
– Haley Jordan