Yellow-Billed Cuckoos to be Saved? Fate in the Hands of Feds

Nature World News
October 20th, 2014
The fate of yellow-Billed Cuckoos, which were just named a threatened species earlier this month, lies in the hands of the feds, who have put off designating nearly 550,000 acres of "critical habitat" for the birds.
Officials from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are worried for the cuckoos, whose cottonwood habitat in nine states, including parts of Colorado, has been destroyed from dams and other river development. And with 90 percent of cottonwoods vanishing, invasive plants like flowering tamarisks have taken over.
Hundreds of bird species throughout the nation are growing more and more threatened by climate change, which continues to shrink their native habitats and push them into uncharted territory, according to a new National Audubon Society report released Monday.
However, while the move would mean good news for the cuckoos, setting aside 546,335 acres of critical habitat worries water providers and others that they will be subject to restrictions.
"This proposal lists as 'threats' a number of critical activities in rural areas, including operation of dams, reservoirs, diversions, groundwater pumping, channel and floodplain clearing, grazing, agriculture, irrigation, water withdrawals, mining, forest management, residential construction, road-building and maintenance, control of invasive species and fire management and used of crop protection products," said the letter that 19 congressional representative signed, as quoted by The Denver Post.
Given the intense opposition, the FWS has decided to reopen a public comment period for 60 more days.
"We've seen a definite trend of this agency reversing course when presented with objections from state interests," added Tim Preso, an attorney involved in the lawsuit to reverse the protection of wolverines.
The critical habitat will be spread among Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming if it is officially designated, according to the Sierra Sun Times.
The American Bird Conservancy puts the yellow-billed cuckoo's numbers nationwide at around 350 to 495 pairs, when once they numbered in the thousands. Arizona has the biggest population, while Oregon, Washington and Montana haven't had any recent yellow-billed cuckoo sightings.

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