The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission last Friday voted 4-3 to reclassify the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act.
A total of 28 people testified for and against uplisting the murrelet including several panelists invited to testify.
The Oregon Endangered Species Act sets out criteria and procedural requirements that apply to the Commission’s determination on whether to reclassify a species. To reclassify or uplist the marbled murrelet as endangered, the Commission must determine that since 1995 (when the species was listed as threatened), the likelihood of survival of the species has diminished such that the species is in danger of extinction throughout any significant portion of its range within Oregon.
Per Oregon ESA criteria and procedural requirements, commissioners first voted 4-3 in determining that survival of the species has diminished such that marbled murrelets are in danger of extinction throughout any significant portion of its range within Oregon and that state lands can play a role in the conservation of the species.
They then voted 4-3 on determining that the following two factors exist,
Most populations are undergoing imminent or active deterioration of their range or primary habitat; and
Existing state or federal programs or regulations are inadequate to protect the species or its habitat.
Chair Mary Wahl noted the risks of changing ocean conditions on the seabird’s food supply and wildfires as a factor in her decision to vote yes to uplist.
Commissioner Kathayoon Khalil noted that conservation measures are only voluntary for the threatened seabird in her decision to vote yes to uplist.
As part of the uplisting requirements, the Commission also voted 5-1 to adopt amended survival guidelines as proposed by staff.
With the marbled murrelet uplisted to endangered, state natural resource agencies that own, manage or lease lands with murrelet habitat are required to develop an endangered species management plan and submit for approval by the Commission within 18 months of uplisting.
To see all the public testimony and full discussion between Commissioners, see a recording of the Zoom meeting at https://youtu.be/PqfadPM9V_c