Agency Denies Protection to Terns Despite Threats

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Van Rossem’s gull-billed tern does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, because its population and range are growing.
     In June 2010, the agency found that a petition to protect the tern, submitted by the environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity, contained enough information to launch a full year-long review of status of the species.
     The tern is threatened by falling water levels and pollution at the Salton Sea, the tern’s principal U.S. nesting site, according to the petition.
     In addition, the group says the tern is being killed by the U.S. Navy to prevent collisions with naval aircraft over San Diego Bay. In Mexico, where the majority of the nesting pairs of the species live, habitat destruction and hunting to protect shrimp at commercial farms threaten the species.
     While the agency admits that the tern faces the threats listed in the petition, its review found that effective management of existing refuges and the use of artificial nesting platforms have increased the survival rate of hatchlings and the general population of the species.
     The agency said it will continue to monitor the status of the species and asked the public to provide updated information on the threats the tern faces.

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