News Release

$223,000 Federal Grant Supports Conservation of Imperiled Shorebird in Delaware Bay and South America

June 24, 2004

Contacts:

Terri Edwards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (413)253-8324

Charles Duncan, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (207)871-9295

Digital photos available on request, Terri_Edwards@fws.gov



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week awarded a $223,000 grant to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in support of international efforts to conserve the red knot, a migratory shorebird, along Delaware Bay (N.J. and Del.), Argentina and Chile, according to Marvin Moriarty, Northeast Regional Director for the Service. The grant will be matched by $668,000 from other sources.

"Red knot populations have steadily decreased in recent history," said Charles Duncan, director of WHSRN. "Conservation of the species will depend on unified international efforts to protect the red knot population and places where it congregates along its migratory path from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America."

Surveys at main wintering areas on the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego showed a 45 percent decline from the mid-1980s to 2003, during which time the population decreased from 67,500 to 30,000 birds, according to Duncan. The species is vulnerable at all stages of its life as huge portions of the population gather at only a few locations along its migratory route.

Delaware Bay is a prominent staging area for the species en route each spring to Arctic breeding grounds. The concurrent spawning of horseshoe crabs in the bay provides the knots an abundant food source to sustain them for their journey. Project partners in New Jersey and Delaware will develop a biological model to quantify the amount of crab eggs necessary to sustain the red knot population.

At WHSRN sites in San Antonio Oeste and at the Rio Gallegos Estuary Provincial Reserve in Argentina, project partners will build nature interpretive centers, develop management plans and community outreach programs to protect critical seasonal red knot habitats, and train and support nature guides and reserve guards.

In Chile, project partners will create a modest research and education station at Bahia Lomas, which hosts the hemispheres largest population of wintering red knots. Additionally, the site will be nominated as a WHSRN site.

International organizations contributing an additional $668,000 for the project include the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, State of New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Fundación Inalafquen, Universidad Nacional de Patagonia Austral, Province of Tierra del Fuego, and Bahía Lomas Shorebird Expedition.

There are 341 species of nearctic-neotropical migratory birds, those species that breed in the United States and Canada, and winter in Latin America. In addition to the red knot, neartic-neotropical species include plovers, terns, hawks, cranes, warblers and sparrows.

The grant is one of 40 totaling $3.8 million awarded June 9 to organizations for projects to conserve neotropical migratory bird populations and their habitats in 16 U.S. states, 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and Puerto Rico. The grants will be matched by $16 million in contributions from other sources.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 2000 requires that 75 percent of the money goes to projects in Latin America and Caribbean countries while 25 percent goes to projects in the U.S. The grants help fund resource protection, research, law enforcement and community outreach programs.

WHSRN (www.manomet.org/whsrn) is a coalition of more than 200 groups working collaboratively to conserve shorebird species and their habitats at a network of sites across the Americas. The coalitions activities are coordinated through the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, an independent environmental research organization based in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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