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Supporting Golden-cheeked warbler endangered status also supports Texas natural lands

The endangered status of the federally protected Golden-cheeked warbler is under attack from several developer groups who want free rein to eliminate thousands of acres of Central Texas habitat, critical to the survival of this unique species, to build more subdivisions.

A petition was filed June 29 with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species listing, to force the Golden-cheeked warbler off the federal endangered species list.

The Golden-cheeked warbler was given federal protection in 1990 because it is known to survive nowhere in the United States except Central Texas, including Hays County. It winters in the mountains of Mexico and Central America, but reproduces only in Central Texas, where it lives from February to August. As stated clearly in the 2014 review of its endangered status by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, (Download: ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc4434.pdf) the Golden-cheeked warbler is heavily dependent on mature Ashe juniper trees, using the bark for nesting material and insects from Ashe juniper for food.

"Given the ongoing, wide spread destruction of its habitat, this species continues to be in danger of extinction throughout its range," the US F & W report says (page 15, 2.4). "Therefore, we recommend no change to the classification of the GCWA as endangered."

The groups filing the petition are: Texans for Positive Economic Policy (led by former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs), the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Reason Foundation. These groups propose to open for unregulated development hundreds of thousands of acres of Central Texas lands that have the crucial required mix of oak and Ashe juniper trees needed by the Golden-cheeked warbler to gather nesting materials and raise its young. These developers threaten the very survival of this beautiful warbler that only nests and reproduces in Central Texas counties.

CARD opposes de-listing the Golden-cheeked warbler because, in addition to threatening the existence of these rare birds, pushing them off the endangered list would almost immediately lead to the massive destruction for development of more of the fast disappearing Texas forest and rural lands of which Texans are so appropriately proud. Such development would greatly challenge the region's natural resources, including water.

CARD urges you to contact the US F & W Service (see contacts below) to express your opposition to removing the Golden-cheeked warbler from the endangered species list.

In an article published in the Austin American-Statesman on July 13, 2015, Joan Marshall, Director of the Travis Audubon Society, states that, "In fact, the US Fish & Wildlife Service just completed a review (see link above) of the status of the Golden-cheeked warbler, with the help of a recovery team of independent experts, and found no grounds to delist the bird". She further states that, "The petition (filed by the developer groups) claims that the Golden-cheeked warbler population is much larger than estimated. However, other biologists have shown that the (development group) model from which the estimate is derived is seriously flawed."

If the Golden-cheeked warbler is delisted, as the developers want, there will be no effective controls over habitat destruction; suitable nesting places will disappear. In the first ten years after the Golden-cheeked warbler was placed on the endangered species list, over 100,000 acres of Hill Country habitat was destroyed. Imagine what would happen if "delisting" were approved.

Throughout history actions by humans have resulted in the loss of many species, often because of ignorance, but all too often due to greed. Our natural world - this beautiful Texas - depends upon concerned citizens taking an active role to protect it and to preserve those things that are important to us all. The tiny, endangered Golden-cheeked warbler depends upon us to protect its limited Central Texas habitat from destruction by developers. In so doing, we will help preserve some of the natural Texas we love and need, which these groups would destroy for profit.

Please add your voice to that of Central Texans who care about our environment and tell the US F & W Service to keep the Golden-cheeked warbler on the endangered species list.


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Headquarters

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Endangered Species
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041
(Go to "About Us" and select "Contacts")

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Region 2-Southwest, including Texas

Chief, Endangered Species
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 1306, Room 4012
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(go to "Get Involved" and select "Contact us".

More Region 2 contacts with numbers...

- CARD Steering Committee


Austin American-Statesman - How Texas fights endangered species protections, critter by critter (8/2/15)

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