Group petitions U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect migratory bird called Wilson’s phalarope

Mar 30, 2024, 6:30 AM | Updated: Apr 1, 2024, 1:44 pm

Wilson’s phalaropes at Mono Lake, California....

Wilson’s phalaropes at Mono Lake, California. (Ron Ozuna)

(Ron Ozuna)

SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists say the future of a migratory bird called Wilson’s phalarope relies on the health of the Great Salt Lake.

Environmental groups are cheering a move that could protect the bird, which travels through the Salt Lake area.

On March 28, The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the bird, under the Endangered Species Act. 

According to the petition itself, the bird is likely to become an endangered species in the future, qualifying it as a threatened species under the Act. 

The small, wading bird migrates from South America. Sixty percent of them stop at the Great Salt Lake on their way north for breeding season. 

“Great Salt Lake is Utah’s lifeblood, and as we watch its collapse, we’re also seeing the demise of Wilson’s phalarope and other migratory birds that rely on it,” said campaigner Deeda Seed in a press release. 

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Wilson’s phalarope populations have fallen around 70% since the 1980s. That’s primarily because of habitat destruction and drought.  

The center’s Patrick Donnelly said the way to protect the bird is to protect the Great Salt Lake. 

“You protect the water going into the lake, you raise those levels back to ecologically sustainable levels,” he said. 

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Group petitions U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect migratory bird called Wilson’s phalarope