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Marbled Murrelets in Oregon

Marbled Murrelet
Photo by
U.S. Forest Service Martin Raphael

About the Marbled Murrelet

The Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small seabird that breeds along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to central California.

Marbled Murrelets spend most of their lives in marine waters and forage at sea on small fish and invertebrates. However, they are unique in that they fly inland (sometimes considerable distances) for nesting and depend upon old growth and coastal late-successional forests for nest sites.

The Marbled Murrelet was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1992 and threatened under the Oregon Endangered Species Act in 1995. The species is currently listed as state-endangered in both Washington and California.

ODFW Initiates Status Review for Marbled Murrelet

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has initiated a review of the biological status of the Marbled Murrelet in Oregon.

This status review is in response to a petition received by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) on June 21, 2016 from Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coast Range Forest Watch, Oregon Wild, the Audubon Society of Portland, and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. The petition requests that the Marbled Murrelet be reclassified from threatened to endangered (uplisted) under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

At its meeting on September 2, 2016, the Commission determined that the petition contained substantial scientific information to justify proceeding with the requested action and voted to accept the petition for further evaluation. This decision initiated the rulemaking process, which includes (1) consultation with affected agencies, tribes, local governments, other states, various organizations, and the public; (2) a review of the biological status of the Marbled Murrelet in Oregon to determine if circumstances meet legal criteria for reclassification; and (3) peer review of ODFW’s status report.

The Commission is required to make a final determination on whether reclassification of the Marbled Murrelet is warranted within one year from the date of receipt of the petition (i.e., by June 21, 2017). By rule, the Commission may extend this deadline for up to 12 additional months if it finds that the information available is limited or other appropriate circumstances require the extension. At its meeting on June 9, 2017, the Commission approved the staff request for an extension until June 21, 2018 to complete the status review and associated rulemaking process.

Opportunity for Public Comment

ODFW is seeking public input on its draft “Status Review of the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in Oregon and Evaluation of Criteria to Reclassify the Species from Threatened to Endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act”. Public comments on the draft are invited through November 9, 2017. Written comments can be submitted by email to odfw.marbledmurrelet@state.or.us or by mail to ODFW, Marbled Murrelet, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302. Please note that comments submitted, including identifying information such as names, affiliations, and email addresses, will become part of the public record.

ODFW tentatively plans to present the final status review report at the February 2018 Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting. The final report will be posted to this webpage and to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s webpage once completed. If you would like to be notified of upcoming Commission meetings, you can sign up to receive meeting schedules electronically. If you are interested in general updates on the Marbled Murrelet status review and rulemaking process, send your name and contact information to ODFW.

Overview of Chronology

An overview of steps completed (as of September 2017) as well as the anticipated future timeline are outlined below for the Marbled Murrelet status review and rulemaking process.

2016

June 21: Petition filed

September 2: Petition found to contain substantial scientific evidence and accepted by the Commission

September 9: Petitioners notified of Commission acceptance of petition

2017

January-April: Gathered data and literature relevant to status review; began consultation

April-August: Prepared draft status review report and reclassification analysis

September: Send out draft status review report for public comment and peer review (allow at least 30 days for input)

November-January: Address comments on draft; develop final report; provide notice of final report and upcoming Commission meeting to interested and affected parties

2018

February: Present status review report at Commission meeting

March: Draft survival guidelines (if positive finding*)

June: Final consideration of petition and decision by Commission; rulemaking to uplist Marbled Murrelet and adopt survival guidelines (if positive finding and decision by Commission to uplist Marbled Murrelet*)

*In the event of a positive finding that the Marbled Murrelet warrants reclassification from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act and a corresponding uplisting decision by the Commission, the Commission would be required to establish survival guidelines for the species at the time of reclassification and to work with state land owning and managing agencies to determine if state land can play a role in the conservation of the species. Survival guidelines are quantifiable and measurable guidelines necessary to ensure the survival of individual members of the species. They may include take avoidance and protecting resource sites such as nest sites or other sites critical to the survival of individual members of the species. They would serve as interim protection until endangered species management plans were developed by applicable state agencies and approved by the Commission.

Additional Resources

Questions? Contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at odfw.marbledmurrelet@state.or.us or 503-947-6301.
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