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Last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Navy announced that a bird species and four plant species from San Clemente Island, the southernmost of California’s Channel Islands, have restored and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Therefore, they will be removed from the endangered species list on February 24.
The bird, San Clemente’s Bell’s Sparrow, is a non-migratory subspecies of the Bell’s Sparrow, found in mainland California, Baja California and neighboring states. Its population reached an all-time low of 38 adult individuals in 1984, but now numbers in the thousands.
“As native shrubby habitat has re-established following the removal of non-native browsing and browsing animals, the distribution of Bell’s Sparrow SC has expanded across SCI,” according to the Federal Register notice announcing the cancellation. “Sightings of Bell’s Sparrows in areas of the island outside the western shore marine terraces have increased. … Population estimates ranged from 4,194 to 7,656 adult Bell’s Sparrows during the period 2013-2018.
Additionally, the habitat available on the island for the bird has increased from approximately 4,196 hectares in 2009 to approximately 13,132 hectares in 2018.
Likewise, the four plants — San Clemente Island paintbrush, lotus, larkspur, and mallow — also made a comeback, the agency said.
“We have determined that the five SCI species are not currently in danger of extinction and are not likely to become so in the near future, based on a comprehensive review of their status and environmental factors. registration,” FWS wrote. “Specifically, our recent study indicated that the Navy’s successful removal of non-native herbivores (goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, mule deer) led to the restoration of vegetation in severely degraded habitat areas on SCI and the restoration of these five species. point out that they no longer need protection under the Act. Therefore, the species no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act.
Martha Williams, Director of FWS, said in a statement, “The recoveries we celebrate today at this unique location demonstrate what is possible when partners work together under the Endangered Species Act. Across the country, the Service and its partners have ensured that hundreds of species are stable or improving. We are grateful for the Navy’s leadership and long-term commitment to recovery efforts that have allowed us to bring these species back from the brink of extinction.
Wilderness area next to a training ground
San Clemente Island is one of eight islands that make up the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. The successful recovery of four plants and one bird adds to the list of species that have now successfully recovered on the islands, including the island nocturnal lizard, island fox, as well as dudleya and bedstraw. Santa Cruz Island. Populations of bald eagles and peregrine falcons, decimated by DDT impacts, have also rebounded nationwide and are breeding successfully in the Channel Islands.
With climate change, including drought and rising sea levels, new challenges are facing many species. Habitat Conservation Plans, Recovery Plans, and Habitat Conservation through State Grants are all ESA tools needed to safeguard our native species and their habitats for future generations.
San Clemente Island is the primary maritime training area for the Pacific Naval Fleet and sea, air and land forces. Before the island was transferred to the Navy, heavy grazing by non-native herbivores largely stripped it of its habitat, causing many native plants and animals to decline.
The Navy has prioritized the removal of all non-native herbivores from the island, allowing the habitat to recover. What was once a largely arid landscape is now home to many endemic species of plants and animals, including the five species removed from the federal threatened and endangered species lists.
Additional efforts to aid in the recovery of the species include the Navy’s development of an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan, a long-range planning document that balances the facility’s mission with conservation and management. of its natural resources, and the implementation of erosion and fire control measures, surveys. and follow-up.
Thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for this news.