Oregon Public Broadcasting

Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the federal decision to put the Marbled Murrelet on the Endangered Species list. But, the population of the seabird continues to decline.

Marbled Murrelets

Gus Van Vliet, USFWS

Marbled Murrelets

Marbled Murrelets are seabirds, but they nest in old growth. They were dropping in number twenty years ago, as they got tangled in fishing nets, were harmed by oil spills, and lost their nesting habitat. Environmentalist say now jays and ravens are expanding into old-growth habitat, where they prey on Murrelet chicks. The bigger birds may be lured into the forest by food scraps from campers who venture farther afield nowadays.

Kim Nelson with Oregon State University helped get Murrelets listed 20 years ago and she's not optimistic about the bird's future.

Nelson said, "In 20 years, I don't see the situation any better unless things change politically or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is more strict at enforcing the Endangered Species Act."

Protections are in place to help Murrelets. The Northwest Forest Plan put aside land. Other habitat has been protected in California and Washington. Gill net fishing has also been curtailed in several key Murrelet spots.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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