Press Room

The Golden-cheeked Warbler Avoids Sure Path to Extinction, Remains Protected

Efforts to Undermine the Endangered Species Act Fail as US Fish and Wildlife Service Rejects Junk Science

AUSTIN, Tex.—Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published its decision to keep the Golden-cheeked Warbler on the endangered species list, ignoring petitions from Texas officials to delist the bird. The decision to ignore the petitions was based on the lack of “substantial scientific or commercial information” to justify a review of this species’ status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“Sound science has won the day and the sanctity of the Endangered Species Act remains intact for now,” said Iliana Peña, director of conservation for Audubon Texas, the state office of the National Audubon Society. “While today’s announcement is good news for the Golden-cheeked Warbler, we are not out of the woods by any measure. A one-two punch of disappearing habitat and climate change still threatens this Texas native, so we must stay focused and keep fighting the good fight.”

This delicate, neo-tropical songbird breeds exclusively in Texas Hill Country, making it a true Lone Star native. The alarming rate at which the bird’s breeding grounds were disappearing due to development led to the original 1990 decision to list the species as endangered. Even with federal protection in place, one-third of its Texas habitat, nearly 1.5 million acres, has disappeared. Removal of ESA protection would eventually lead to its extinction. In August 2014, USFWS released the results of a routine five-year review of the warbler’s status, which concluded that the bird should remain listed due to “ongoing widespread destruction of its habitat.” Delisting efforts were made in spite of such a conclusion.

Local conservation groups like Travis Audubon Society in Austin and Bexar Audubon Society in San Antonio submitted comments to USFWS in support of the agency’s decision to keep the Golden-cheeked Warbler listed as endangered. Both groups, along with Audubon Texas and the rest of the state’s twenty Audubon chapters, advocate for birds and other wildlife across Texas using science, policy and education.

While, the warbler dodged one bullet, the species was recently cited in the Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report as one of the 314 North American bird species at risk from losing habitat due to a shifting climate. To learn more about Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report, please visit www.audubon.org/climate.

To learn more about the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the decision to keep its Endangered Species Act protections, click here.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, (212) 979-3068

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