Report Cites Offshore O&G Activity as Potential Threat to Birds

The Interior Department recently  announced the release of the 2014 State of the Birds report.  The report, which has been issued annually since 2009, is authored by the 23-member U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.  The report includes a “watch list” of 233 species of birds said to be most in need of conservation action.  Of the identified species, 42 are seabird species and 36 are coastal species.

As to seabirds, the report says that “many seabirds face severe threats,” and that “marine protected areas and a fishing treaty can help birds on the ocean” (later citing the proposed Pacific marine monument expansion as beneficial to seabird populations).  The report goes on to cite offshore energy development and oil spills in “critical marine foraging habitats” as among the potential threats to seabirds.

The report states that coastal birds face multiple threats from human development and disturbance, oil spills and other pollution, and climate change.  The report says that the Deepwater Horizon incident impacted Black Skimmers and Wilson’s Plowers, two coastal species said to be “already in decline,”  adding that DWH-related funds “will be critical to address environmental damage from the oil spill in a timely manner.”  The report also says that birds along the Atlantic Coast are “squeezed for habitat.”