The Red Knot has one of the most impressive migrations in the world, traveling over 9,000 miles twice a year along the Atlantic Flyway from the Arctic to Argentina and back, but habitat and the food resources to fuel this demanding journey have declined, putting these birds at risk. Since the 1980s, populations have fallen by 75 percent, with the steepest declines in the past decade.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed protecting the Red Knot under the Endangered Species Act, and is accepting public comments through November 29. Send your public comments in support of protecting these imperiled birds today.
I am writing in support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed listing of the rufa Red Knot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Rufa Red Knots, which migrate over 9,000 miles along the Atlantic coast from the Canadian Arctic to southern Argentina, have declined by about 75 percent since the 1980s from over 100,000 to about 25,000 today. These declines, and the broad threats that it faces across its range, make it vulnerable to extinction in the foreseeable future and an appropriate candidate for listing under the ESA.
Overfishing of horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay has been the primary cause of the knot's decline, as birds that cannot fatten up for the last leg of their journey to their Arctic breeding grounds don't survive the trip or arrive in such poor condition that they cannot nest successfully. However, coastal development and engineering projects, as well as chronic disturbance, at migratory stopover sites throughout the U.S. have also depleted feeding and resting habitat for migrating Red Knots. In addition, climate change has been identified as affecting conditions in the Arctic and elsewhere, mismatching the timing of food availability for migrating and breeding knots.
The threats to the rufa Red Knot and its incredible journey are so large and systemic that state and local action, such as New Jersey's moratorium on horseshoe crab fishing in its portion of Delaware Bay, are insufficient to meet the challenges of conserving Red Knots for future generations. Federal listing will provide additional protections, research, and management needed to halt current precipitous declines and recover Red Knot populations. That is why I support the proposed listing of the rufa Red Knot.