Climate-Threatened Birds

Why the Golden-cheeked Warbler Must Stay Listed

In an op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News, Audubon CEO David Yarnold explains why the Texan songbird needs the Endangered Species Act's support.

Even after spending 25 years on the Endangered Species List, the Golden-cheeked Warbler, a yellow-faced bird with a breeding range limited to old-growth forests in Texas Hill Country, is still facing unprecedented threats, thanks to development in the state. In an op-ed for San Antonio Express-News, Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold explains the current threats that make the bird still deserving of federal protections:

The warbler’s nesting grounds—those beautiful natural places that make the Hill Country famous—are being eroded, subdivision by subdivision, and building by building, in the 33 counties where it nests. That’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to provide special protections for the golden-cheeked warbler a quarter of a century ago.

Even with those legal protections, an estimated 1.5 million acres (nearly a third of the Golden-cheeked Warbler’s home range) disappeared between 1999 and 2011. 

The most recent census in 2012 showed that only 27,000 warblers remained—25 percent decline in just under 30 years. In the op-ed, Yarnold explans that while the best conservation happens when private landowners and public stakeholders collaborate, in this case, the bird's populations are so low that there is no other choice but to keep it listed. 

“Once we lose a species we never get it back,” Yarnold wrote in the op-ed. Read the whole piece here

Editor's Note: The original version of this story referred to the San Antonio Express-News as My San Antonio, which is the name of the paper's website. 

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