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Black-capped Petrel Moves Closer to Federal Protection

Date
October 5, 2018
Contact
Taylor Jones, (720) 443-2615, tjones@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy, Wildlife
Washington, DC – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today proposed to list the black-capped petrel, a rare seabird under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The specie’s nesting and foraging habitat is threatened by deforestation, off-shore oil development, and effects of climate change.

“This proposed rule is long overdue,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “It’s past time for these rare birds to move towards federal protections.”

The black-capped petrel, named for its distinct black crown, nests in colonies with its nests perched in crevices or burrows in steep mountain cliffs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The black-capped petrel is nocturnal, and feeds on squid and fish in its maritime foraging grounds, centered in the South Atlantic Bight between North Carolina and Florida.

WildEarth Guardians petitioned this rare bird on September 1, 2011, the 97th anniversary of the death of “Martha,” the last passenger pigeon. Protection under the ESA is an effective safety net for imperiled species: more than 99 percent of plants and animals protected by the law exist today. The law is especially important as a defense against the current extinction crisis; species are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006 if not for ESA protections. However, the Trump administration is weakening the strong protections of the Act by proposing a special rule for the petrel that would exempt incidental harm to the birds from oil and gas development or other offshore activities.

“The Trump administration continues to wage war on endangered species by undermining the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act,” said Jones. “Black-capped petrels deserve the strongest protections we can give them, not watered-down regulations that exempt the biggest threats to the species.”

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