|Red knots Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the red knot, a migratory shorebird, as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. A “threatened” designation means a species is at risk of becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
“This federal designation will make a big difference in strengthening the protections of this incredible shorebird,” said David Wheeler, executive director for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “Here in New Jersey, we are restoring the vital beach habitat that had been decimated by Hurricane Sandy, and this designation ensures the safeguards we are providing can be complemented along the East Coast,” Wheeler added.
Since the 1980s, the knot’s population has fallen by about 75 percent in some key areas. Wildlife biologists believe the major threat to the red knot is the dramatic decline of horseshoe crab eggs, an essential food source at the most critical stopover during their 8,000-mile trip from southern wintering grounds to Arctic breeding territory. High-energy horseshoe crab eggs provide nourishment for red knots to refuel and continue their journey.
“The major decline of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay is one of the largest threats to the survival of the shorebird,” explained Larry Niles, a biologist who leads the beach restoration efforts for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and American Littoral Society, and has studied red knots for three decades.
Shorebird Makes Federal Threatened Species List - The SandPaper