California least tern. The decline of these small seabirds that like to fish for anchovies and smelt in the shallow coastal waters of central and Southern California began in the late 19th century, due to the desirability of their feathers for women’s hats. In the decades after the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916 ended that threat, populations again began to plummet as habitat was wiped out by development and recreational pressures.
By the 1940s, terns were extirpated from most beaches of Orange and Los Angeles counties and were considered sparse elsewhere. When listed as endangered in 1970, just 225 nesting tern pairs were recorded in California. Protection of nest beaches from development and disturbance, and active predator-control programs, allowed the species to steadily increase to about 7,100 pairs in California in 2004. In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended downlisting of the California least tern. In 2010, a population of 6,568 was recorded.
P.S. You can download a PDF of the 16-page report here.
Read more: alligators, animal rights, animal welfare, black-footed ferrets, california least tern, center for biological diversity, climate change, congress, conservation, economy, endangered species, endangered species act, extinction, global warming, nature, wildlife
Photo credits: American alligator and island fox photos courtesy National Park Service, Black-footed ferret by Randy Matchett, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, California least tern courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS Pacific Southwest Region
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