Department of Natural Resources offers draft plans for comment on harvest, seabird – PDN

The state Department of Natural Resources has released draft environmental impact statements on the agency’s 10-year sustainable harvest calculation and its marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy. Public comment will be taken until 5 p.m. March 9 on both documents, DNR spokesman Bob Redling said. Public meetings and webinars are planned next month. The 160-page sustainable harvest draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, and instructions for submitting public comments are available at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/shc. The 600-page marbled murrelet draft EIS and instructions for submitting public comments are available at www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/department-of-natural-resources-offers-draft-plans-for-comment-on-harvest-seabird/

Study gives new meaning to the term ‘bird brain’ – Vanderbilt News

I’ve been close to a number of birds in my life, raising a pigeon and a bunch of canaries. I’ve never felt that birds are a simple creature, given their size. The amazing ability to learn and survive is astonishing. Consider the hummingbird, who knows how to migrate from snowfields in South America to the northern west coast. My pigeon would fly from window to window outside our house while I would walk through the house. It would fly alongside my wife’s van for 8 blocks as she left in the morning. To find out that we have been underestimating these animals ability to think is not really news. But it does open a new way of understanding their abilities.

The macaw has a brain the size of an unshelled walnut, while the macaque monkey has a brain about the size of a lemon. Nevertheless, the macaw has more neurons in its forebrain – the portion of the brain associated with intelligent behavior – than the macaque. That is one of the surprising results of the first study to systematically measure the number of neurons in the brains of more than two dozen species of birds ranging in size from the tiny zebra finch to the six-foot-tall emu, which found that they consistently have more neurons packed into their small brains than are stuffed into mammalian or even primate brains of the same mass. The study results were published online in a paper titled “Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences early edition on the week of June 13. David Salisbury reports. (Vanderbilt News)

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2016/06/study-gives-new-meaning-to-the-term-bird-brain/

State considers conservation options for marbled murrelet – Skagit Valley Herold

Some of the marbled murrelet habitat is in western Jefferson County. 

The state Department of Natural Resources is reviewing conservation plan options for the marbled murrelet, a seabird that is found along the state’s coast, including several bays on Skagit County’s shoreline. The state agency worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft five strategies to conserve the bird’s habitat. The options would protect between 594,000 and 734,000 acres of land managed by Natural Resources. The marbled murrelet is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it is likely to become endangered. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/state-considers-conservation-options-for-marbled-murrelet/article_56a429ae-4a0e-573f-a06d-3e604468bf02.html

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction – Birdnote

Interesting ideas. Might be of use here in the Sound.

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio recordings of birdcalls. Using these, scientists can entice bird colonies out of harm’s way. These Atlantic Puffins represent another successful use of social attraction: Kress and his team established new colonies of puffins on the coast of Maine! (BirdNote)

http://birdnote.org/show/restoring-bird-colonies-social-attraction

Jefferson County Dems Adopt Marbled Murrelet Resolution

The Jefferson County Democrats adopted, on Tuesday, a resolution urging the Board of Natural Resources to adopt the strongest of the alternatives it is considering for protection of marbled murrelet habitat. As a federally listed threatened species, the murrelet is protected on federal lands, but not on private lands. The bird has been protected on state trust lands under an interim conservation strategy since 1997, years before most research on the murrelet’s ecological requirements took place.

“The state’s own scientists showed in 2008 that this threatened species is still declining because of our logging practices,” said Bruce Cowan, Chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. “If this species is going to survive, we can’t just keep cutting the trust lands where these birds nest.”

The meeting followed a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen of the Murrelet Survival Project. Not until 1974 did scientists discover that, unlike any other seabird, the murrelet nests in forests, flying as far as fifty miles inland to nest on large branches high in old growth forests. Breeding pairs switch places daily, with one parent feeding on small fish while the other incubates their single egg.

The Washington State Board of Natural Resources is currently considering five alternatives for habitat protection on state trust lands. According to Shmelzlen, only Alternative E responds to the 2008 Science Report, developed by researchers for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The issue of murrelet habitat conservation has been contentious. In 2013, the courts halted a DNR approved harvest of 12,000 acres of timber in Southwest Washington. The Forest Resources Council, an advocate for the timber industry, was unsuccessful in its attempt to have the murrelet de-listed as a threatened species.

“We’ve waited long enough for action,” said Cowan. “Adopting a clear policy based on the 2008 Science Report will make it easier for DNR to do its work. With fewer lawsuits, the flow of timber revenues to state and local governments will be more predictable,” said Cowan. “The set aside is not huge, and it could save a species from extinction.”

State of the Birds Report: Conservation Works, but There’s More Work to Do – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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This week, the Cornell Lab and partners released the 2014 State of the Birds Report. The report commemorates Martha, the world’s last Passenger Pigeon, whose tragic passing 100 years ago spurred the creation of the world’s greatest conservation movement.

In the last century we’ve saved Wood Ducks and Bald Eagles, Kirtland’s Warblers and Brown Pelicans, and more. The new report offers the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever, identifying a Watch List of 228 high-concern species as well as 33 Common Birds in Steep Decline to begin conserving now. See the full report and download the lists.

Environmental Group Fights Delay In Marbled Murrelet Habitat Protections – Earthfix

For those who may not have been here in the 70s and 80s, the Marbled Murrelett and the Spotted Owl have been the indicator species that triggered limits on harvest of the remaining old growth forest on the Olympic Peninsula (there was less than 5% remaining of it when the Federal Government stopped harvest due to habitat destruction to these birds). Since the 80s, the timber industry has done all it can to remove these protections, as the remaining timber is very valuable, and unavailable for harvest at this point, but the environmental legal teams have been able to prove to the courts scientifically that cutting more would mean the loss of the birds here. The battle is far from over, as this story from Earthfix shows. How much is at stake is an open debate point, and the issue has been used to inflame rural communities that were suffering from loss of timber jobs since the late 70s. The story that has never been adequately covered is that the loss of these jobs were heavily influence by the very companies that criticized the rules, as they had got Congress to open the shipping of raw logs to Japan. Smaller outdated mills could not compete, or afford to change. Also advancements in mechanized cutting came in at the same time, making many jobs obsolete. The story of the “spotted owl” is so much more complex than it was presented. And so, the 2013 chapter of the ongoing drama over the “Spotted Owl”.

An environmental group has stopped an agreement between the timber industry and federal wildlife officials that would have delayed new protections for a threatened seabird. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service settled with the timber industry group, the American Forest Resource Council, last summer, to avoid a legal battle over for the marbled murrelet. The industry group argued that maps of protected areas called “critical habitat” had been done improperly. Fish and Wildlife agreed to suspend the current maps ­ but draft new ones. But, that agreement, and the protracted timeline ­ that it would take five years ­ drew a legal challenge from the Center for Biological Diversity. Rob Manning reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/environmental-group-fights-delay-in-marbled-murrel/

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