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Oregon Considering Added Protections for Reclusive Coastal Seabird

The marbled murrelet has been at the center of a conservation fight on the Oregon coast for decades.

October 2, 2017

A new report from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows that despite previous protections, the marbled murrelet is still in trouble.

And now, the state is considering whether to list the sea bird as “endangered” under the state’s endangered species act.

“Overall, it’s an imperiled species, but ultimately the question of whether to up-list or not, that’s a commission decision,” says Christina Donehower of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to make that decision in February.

The murrelet was listed as “threatened” federally and by Oregon in the 1990s. Environmental groups are now asking for the change in status.

Donehower says changing the status would force the state to develop an official plan to protect the bird.

“Really the most direct effects of listing… would be for state owned or leased lands,” she says.

Private forest lands could be affected as well. Changes in management of murrelet habitat could curtail timber harvest.

Marbled murrelets nest in mature coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest. Over the past 25 years, they’ve lost habitat on state and private lands at a much higher rate than on federally managed land.


The presence of federally protected marbled murrelet is ratcheting up the debate over the sale of state forestlands to private timber companies.

Audubon Society