U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
March 20, 2012
812-334-4261 x 1203
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards
Kirtland’s Warbler Advocate Carol Bocetti Among Recipients
Photo credit California University of Pennsylvania
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced recipients of the 2011 Recovery Champion award, which honors Service employees and partners for outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. Among the honorees is Dr. Carol Bocetti of the California University of Pennsylvania, who leads the recovery team for the endangered Kirtland’s warbler.
A total of 56 teams and nine individuals were honored as Recovery Champions for work to conserve species ranging from the polar bear in Alaska to the Appalachian elktoe mussel and spotfin chub in North Carolina.
“Recovery Champions are helping listed species get to the point at which they are secure in the wild and no longer need Endangered Species Act protection,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “These groups and individuals have done amazing work in helping to bring dozens of species back from the brink of extinction, while improving habitat that benefits many other species and local communities.”
Dr. Bocetti was recognized for her work with the Kirtland’s warbler, an endangered songbird found only in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario. Dr. Bocetti’s research and recovery initiatives have been a key factor in the growth of the warbler population from near record lows of about 200 pairs during the mid-1980s to the current estimate of more than 1,700 pairs, surpassing recovery goals. Her research also documented the link between the size of jack pine stands – the warbler’s nesting habitat - and warbler productivity.
A member of the Kirtland’s warbler recovery team since 1998, Dr. Bocetti became the team leader in 2006. Working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the U. S. Forest Service, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others, she spearheaded efforts to develop a conservation strategy and commitment to managing habitat, a significant step toward recovery and long-term conservation of the species.
“Thanks to Dr. Bocetti’s leadership and dedication, Kirtland’s warblers are making strides toward recovery,” said Tom Melius, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Regional Director. “That is a remarkable achievement for a species that was once on the brink of extinction.”
From the bull trout in Washington, Oregon, and Montana to the red-cockaded woodpecker in Florida, Alabama and Texas, Recovery Champions are taking action to benefit these species. Service employees and partners, including federal and state conservation agencies, tribes, universities, conservation organizations, private landowners, and zoos and botanic gardens, are making a difference through activities such as removing dams so that anadromous fish can reach their spawning grounds, restoring longleaf pine forests in the Southeast, and reintroducing an endangered bird species into its historical range.
For example, the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) is being recognized for its work in endangered species recovery programs over several decades. Numerous species across multiple states have greatly benefitted from TESF’s continued support over the years and are on the road to recovery thanks in large part to these efforts, such as the black-footed ferret, red-cockaded woodpecker, Chiricahua leopard frog and Northern Aplomado falcon.
Notably, the TESF has been active and supportive in gray wolf recovery in the United States, both in the Northern Rocky Mountains and in the Southwest. Since 1997, the Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility, located on R.E. Turner’s Ladder Ranch in south-central New Mexico and operated by TESF is one of the program’s three primary captive pre-release facilities and has been instrumental in housing and selectively breeding Mexican wolves for release to the wild.
Also this year, National Wildlife Refuges from Maine through Virginia are being honored for conserving more than 250 breeding pairs of piping plovers on refuge, state, municipal and private lands.
In the West, the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative, comprised of more than 22 organizations, after creating a strategy for needed actions such as best management practices for oil and gas development, is working with the industry to implement the practices.
And in an unusual accomplishment, a team of biologists, avian husbandry experts and veterinarians captured wild Nihoa millerbirds, insect-eating songbirds on the Hawaiian island of Nihoa, and translocated them to Laysan Island, restoring Millerbirds to the island after an absence of 100 years.
Restoring streams, releasing listed species into their historical ranges, and conducting field surveys and monitoring programs are among the diversity of initiatives by this year’s Recovery Champions. What began in Fiscal Year 2002 as a one-time award for Service staff members for achievements in conserving listed species was reactivated in 2007 and expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
For information about the 2011 Recovery Champions, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/recovery-champions/index.html.
For more information about recovery efforts for the Kirtland’s warbler, visit www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered
America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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