October 2019 Edition | Volume 73, Issue 10
Published since 1946
Kirtland’s Warbler Delisted
On October 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Kirtland’s warbler, one of the initial species added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), had recovered enough to be removed from protection under the ESA. The songbird that nests only in the young jack pine forests in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario was down to just 167 breeding pairs in 1974.
“The Kirtland’s warbler was one of the first species in the United States to be put on the federal list of endangered and threatened species, and today’s action by the U.S. Department of the Interior marks the latest chapter in a remarkable wildlife success story,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger. “The bird’s recovery provides dramatic testimony to what conservation organizations, governments and businesses can accomplish when they come together for the good of the resource. We are grateful for the partnership of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service in this effort. I sincerely believe conservation is a team sport, and today’s announcement is a big win for natural resources in Michigan and for all those involved.”
Kirtland’s warblers require natural disturbance to ensure quality breeding habitat in young jack pine forests, disturbance that was limited due to the suppression of wildfires. Collaborative conservation efforts that mimic natural succession through timber harvesting and reforestation were developed between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, private forest owners, and conservation groups. In addition, partners controlled brown-headed cowbirds that acted as nest predators by laying eggs in warbler nests and the larger cowbird chicks would outcompete the warbler chicks. The current population of Kirtland’s warbler is estimated at 2,000 pairs which is double the recovery goal.
“Collaborative conservation is an effective way of protecting at-risk species and their habitat because it creates a common focus around a shared objective for government agencies, private landowners and the broader conservation community,” said Craig Seaman, Senior Investment Forester, of Timberland Investment Resources, LLC, which manages working forest investments in Wisconsin. “This is another example of how conservation without conflict can produce positive outcomes and we congratulate all those involved, and especially the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for leading the effort.”