Feds announce that they will consider the Tricolored Blackbird for ESA protection

Tricolored Blackbird. Photo: Martin Myers

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today announced that the Tricolored Blackbird is one of several species that it will formally consider for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Surveys last year indicate that the number of nearly-endemic species have dropped as much as 44 percent since 2011. The announcement from the Service begins a 60-day comment period, which will be followed by more in-depth consideration of the petition.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the petition to list the Tricolored Blackbird in February.

The decision to move the federal listing process forward tracks with a similar move at the state level. In June, the California Fish and Game Commission voted against advancing a petition to list the Tricolored Blackbird under the California Endangered Species Act. That petition was also filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, and Audubon California supported it in writing, through public testimony, and through its network of supporters.

Following the Fish and Game Commission decision, both the Center for Biological Diversity and Audubon California called for reconsideration, due to a number of issues with the process through which the body made its decision. The Center for Biological Diversity subsequently refiled its petition.

For the last several years, Audubon California has worked aggressively to protect Tricolored Blackbird nesting colonies in the Central Valley. In January, at the urging of Audubon California and other partners, the Natural Resources Conservation Service issued a $1.1 million grant to support a partnership including Audubon California, the dairy industry, and federal agencies to support Tricolored Blackbird conservation.

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