Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’

Rockhopper Penguins Put On Endangered List

February 27, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that this past week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of the southern rockhopper penguin is now protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), following publication of a final listing determination in the Federal Register.

The New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of southern rockhopper penguin is found in the sub-antarctic region south of these two countries. The population size of this species, which breeds on the Macquarie, Campbell, Aukland and Antipodes Island groups, has declined by approximately 90 percent since the 1940’s and continues to shrink.

This action follows a thorough review of the best available scientific information from researchers, peer reviewers and the general public, as well as any new information received during a public comment period which followed publication of the proposed rule to list this species. The specific cause of the declining trend has not been identified, but information indicates that changes in the marine environment, such as prey availability, productivity or sea temperatures are the primary factors contributing to the decline.

Granting foreign species protection under the ESA means that the import or export of any of the species, or their parts or products, as well as their sale in interstate or foreign commerce, is prohibited. Permits for these prohibited actions are required for specific purposes consistent with the ESA.
The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on February 22, 2011, and become effective on March 24, 2010.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for native fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s implementation of the ESA, go to

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit


Hoping Endangered Penguins Feel Some Heat

December 9, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pa is getting the birthday preparations ready for the first penguin babies in its 58-year history, although the celebration may be bittersweet. The aviary has a pair of African penguins who have the genetic makeup to soon mate successfully, which could mean penguin eggs in two months. Although the North Side institution is a national leader in protecting the species, which have a prime home in the aviary’s recently renovated building, it has never had a birth there. The timing is critical. The species was officially declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 28 and by an international conservation body in June. The African penguin population has dropped from 141,000 about 50 years ago, to 50,000 in 2000 to 25,000 today, a rate that could see them erased from the wild within 10 years. They are getting killed by commercial fishing, destruction of their habitat, oil pollution and other factors. “Everybody loves penguins. The challenge is they’re trying to survive,” said Steve Sarro, the aviary’s director of animal programs and the national coordinator of efforts to protect the species. But if the chicks come, he said, “We are going to celebrate. Trust me.” The African penguin lives off the southern coast of Africa, and is roughly half the size of the Emperor penguins of Antarctica. The aviary is home to 12 of the smallish birds, who behave almost like children, said Mr. Sarro, who has worked among them for 25 years. “They’re like 3-year-olds. They’re very challenging to work with sometimes,” he said. Mr. Sarro is the national coordinator for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ African penguin species survival plan. It involves a scientific breeding program for the birds, which can mean matching them up with genetically attuned penguins from other institutions from around the country. The aviary cooperates with similar breeding plans for andean condors, Guam rails and other endangered birds that have hatched chicks on the North Side. Mr. Sarro is head national matchmaker for the penguins, or “the stud-book keeper himself,” said National Aviary executive director Patrick Mangus. The aviary’s penguin parents-to-be are in a private area Mr. Sarro calls “the honeymoon suite,” secluded from the other penguins. They have not mated yet — the male is molting his feathers — but should be ready soon, in what their internal clock thinks is summertime, since their natural habitat is on the southern hemisphere. If the mating is successful, there are usually two eggs produced after two months and then cared for by both parents during a 38-day incubation period.

National Aviary officials are hoping these African penguins will mate soon.

The aviary also announced Tuesday its latest accreditation from the AZA, which Mr. Mangus described as a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” within the zoo industry. (The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is also accredited.) Zoo and aquarium buildings, programs and administrators submit to a thorough examination every five years to get the distinction, which the National Aviary has had for 25 years. It helps make sure institutions promote the latest advances in animal welfare, science and conservation, explained AZA president and CEO Jim Maddy. During site visits, AZA examiners “practically pick up your wastebaskets and make sure you don’t have any cobwebs on the bottom,” Mr. Maddy said.

U.S. Penguin Protection Confirmed

September 30, 2010

Since my wife works for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this one comes right from the source as it has been confirmed to Penguin Place that the U.S.F. &W Service has issued a final action listing the African penguin as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The penguin’s population has declined over 60 percent in the last 30 years.
The agency’s action is part of a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity which has argued throughout years of litigation that the Secretary of the Interior–which oversees the agency–was derelict in not deciding whether the African, and several other penguins should be protected.
At the beginning of the 20th century the population of African penguins was so large that more than a million were identified at just one breeding site off the coast of South Africa. At the turn of this century, however, it was estimated that there were only 32,000 breeding pairs left in the world.
The destruction of nesting habitat by the stripping of penguin guano for fertilizer is one of the leading causes of the population decline of non-arctic penguins all around the southern hemisphere. The penguins burrow in the accumulated guano to protect their hatchlings from predation and the weather.
Low-lying nesting breeding habitat is being inundated by coastal flooding caused by in-land deforestation, and a nearly 2 millimeter rise in sea level over the past 30 years.
African penguins also are threatened by El Nino weather events which cause warm sea water to move toward the South Pole, driving away the cold-water sardines that are the mainstay of the penguin’s diet.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protections to five other species of penguins, and made it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, wound, kill, trap, collect or ship them into or out of the United States. The African penguin will now enjoy similar protections.

African Penguin