Logging, Loss of Prey, Climate Change All Endanger Marbled Murrelet.

In what is considered a victory for conservationists and Oregon old growth forest advocates, on February 9 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to change the status of marbled murrelets from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

The decision to uplist the murrelet reflects the increasingly imperiled status of the species in Oregon and represents an important step in reversing its ongoing decline toward extinction in the state.    

“We applaud the commission for recognizing that the marbled murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This decision sets the stage for the state of Oregon to take the steps that will be necessary to recover this species in Oregon.”

The marbled murrelet is a seabird that nests in old-growth and mature forests and forages at sea. Its population has declined dramatically over the decades because of extensive logging in Oregon’s Coast Range. The commission’s decision could have implications for forest protection on state and private timberlands.

“While federal laws have stabilized habitat loss on federal lands, the state of Oregon has continued to allow logging of older forests at an alarming rate and failed to adequately address new threats to the species,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “Changing the murrelet’s status to endangered will help ensure that Oregon takes the steps necessary to do its part to save this species.”

The groups that initiated the petition to declare the marbled murrelet endangered in Oregon were Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Coast Range Forest Watch and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.