Let's save our tufted puffins--before it's too late
Original story at OnEarth Magazine• 6 mentions • 4 weeks ago
OnEarth Magazine 4 weeks ago
As tufted puffin populations take a deep dive in the Lower 48, an effort to get the birds listed as endangered surfaces. It’s hard not to love the tufted puffin. Just a little bigger than a football and not altogether different in shape, this bird’s bright orange beak and mad scientist-like tufts make it a standout on cliffs above the Pacific. Unlike their tuxedo-wearing Atlantic cousins, tufted puffins wear all black, but these pelagic punks are having a rough time on our western coastline.In just 30 years, tufted puffin populations in Washington, Oregon, and California have plummeted as much as 90 percent, thanks to habitat destruction, fishing practices, and troubles with invasive species. That’s why the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth) filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today, requesting that tufted puffins of the Lower 48 receive protections under the Endangered Species Act.On this side of the Pacific, the puffin’s historic range extends from Alaska down to almost Mexico, but the farther south you go, the fewer birds you’ll see. Although large populations of tufted puffins appear stable in Alaska, at last count, Washington had only 3,000 breeding individuals, while Oregon and California had fewer than 300 each. According to Brad Sewell, a senior attorney at NRDC, these more southerly birds represent a distinct population segment that deserves protection.