"This achievement comes in spite of foot-dragging from the Bush Administration, which has been slow to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence indicating the red knot's plight."
Last month, conservation groups including Audubon sought emergency protections from the federal government to prevent further catastrophic declines in numbers of red knots. The emergency petition for listing the species for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act came on the heels of a new report by 20 shorebird biologists from around the world, which detailed the rapid and ongoing decline of the migratory shorebird's populations in the Western Hemisphere.
The new report confirmed that both the rufa and roselaari subspecies of red knot in the United States need immediate protection or risk further decline and extinction. In addition to the evidence showing decreased populations of both subspecies of red knot, the report also found that weights of red knots caught in the Delaware Bay during their spring stopover have suffered significantly due to the reduced availability of horseshoe crab eggs that are needed to sustain the shorebird on the last leg of their migration to breeding grounds in the Arctic.
The red knot was named a "Watchlist" bird in Audubon's widely publicized 2007 report due to population declines.
The New Jersey law imposes a moratorium on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs. Already approved by the General Assembly, it was approved by the Senate in a unanimous vote of 39-0 and signed by Gov. Corzine yesterday.