Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Red Knots in the news

The ban on horseshoe crab harvests in 2006 and 2007 should be good news for Red Knots, the topic of many conversations in the last few years.

Red knots once were considered one of New Jersey's most abundant shorebirds. Now state biologists fear they will go extinct in as few as five years. Their numbers have plummeted recently from 95,000 in 1989 to as few as 13,000 last year.

While the red knot is the focus of the proposed ban, the state noted that other shorebirds that rely on crab eggs have declined as well, including ruddy turnstones, sanderlings and semi-palmated sandpipers.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife, which has tracked these birds to the ends of the Earth, hopes that by protecting the crabs, the birds will have more food.

I hope that these efforts really pay off so that folks who oppose the ban, such as those who make their living by fishing and trapping, see the economic benefits to protecting birds. What economic benefits? The influx of birders who visit regions that host particular species.

Ecotourism aka nature tourism involves big bucks, and it's to the birding community's benefit to spread the word.

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