Lawsuit Launched to Challenge Denial of Endangered Species Act Protection for Imperiled California Seabird

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Shaye Wolf, (415) 632-5301

Lawsuit Launched to Challenge Denial of Endangered Species Act Protection for Imperiled California Seabird

SAN FRANCISCO - The Center for Biological Diversity today
officially notified
the Department of the Interior of its intent to sue over the Department’s illegal
denial of Endangered Species Act protections for the ashy
storm petrel
, an imperiled California seabird, despite
clear
scientific evidence that the species is threatened by predation, oil
spills,
climate change and other threats. The letter is a prerequisite to filing
a
lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act.

“The Interior
Department’s decision continues a Bush-era approach of ignoring and
contorting
the scientific evidence to block protections for imperiled wildlife,”
said Center biologist Shaye Wolf. “Just as Secretary Salazar failed to
clean house in the oil-industry-tainted Minerals Management Service, he
has
similarly failed to reform the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that
decisions to protect our nation’s wildlife are based on sound science
rather than politics.”

The ashy storm petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) is a
small,
smoke-gray seabird that nests and forages almost exclusively on the
offshore
islands and waters of California near San Francisco, Los Angeles
and San Diego.
Faced with multiple threats at its breeding islands and at sea, this
seabird
has seen severe population declines in recent decades and is listed as
endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and
BirdLife
International. In 2007,
the Center
submitted a scientific petition to list the ashy storm petrel under the
Endangered Species Act.

The Fish and Wildlife
Service staff
reviewing the petition determined that the ashy storm petrel deserved
listing
as a threatened species due to population declines and the threats to
this
seabird. However, shortly before the Service’s decision was due to be
released, agency administrators rewrote and reversed the staff’s
conclusions. The revised decision wrongly claimed that the ashy storm
petrel
was increasing, while ignoring a study documenting a 76-percent decline
in
at-sea abundance between 1985 and 2006.

“Rather than relying on the best available
science, the
Fish and Wild Service seems intent on trying to find any excuse to avoid
protecting this species,” said Wolf. “Giving the ashy storm petrel
effective protections from pollution and climate change under the
Endangered
Species Act is key to
its survival and would enhance the health of California’s coasts as a whole.”

Today’s notice letter puts the Interior
Department on
notice that its listing decision violated the Endangered Species Act by
disregarding the best available science and provides the Department an
opportunity to correct these flaws in the next 60 days.

The
petition and more information on the ashy storm petrel are
available at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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