All it Wants is to Sing!


Once again, genetics is showing its might – this time with the small 4-inch gnatcatchers.

The black and blue songbirds that live up and down the California coast – and which have been on the Federally Threatened List since 1993 — shouldn’t be federally protected says a new lawsuit.

Attorneys at the Pacific Legal Foundation – who were also responsible for removing protections for the bald eagle – think that the bird needs to be “delisted” because this SoCal gnatcatcher is not a separate subspecies; it’s genetic relatives live down the coast in Mexico and there are plenty of those flappers around, the lawsuit claims

From the Daily Breeze:

“If you look at the entire gnatcatcher population across the border, it’s clear the population is doing fine and the entire species is not threatened with extinction,” said Damien Schiff, the lead attorney on the case.

Protections for the bird – and for about 197,0 00 acres of its federally designated critical habitat across six Southern California counties – are an example of “unjustified, job-killing regulations,” the foundation said in a news release.

The bird’s listing causes environmental mitigation and permitting costs for developers and homeowners, along with limitations to building on desirable land, Schiff said.

He pointed to a 2007 federal analysis predicting the bird’s status will cause an economic impact of $915 million through 2025.

The gray bird only lives in coastal sage scrub, a plant which has been reduced 90 percent by development, according to some estimates. Developers in the Palos Verdes Peninsula – where coastal sage scrub is somewhat plentiful – want to build a Trump National Golf Club and luxury homes but they can’t get to the ground because the gnatcatcher’s habitat is protected.  Even the city has a hard time with their public works projects because of the stipulations.

The bird has a friend with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy which counts ongoing habitat restoration projects and increasing the gnatcatcher’s numbers. It’s estimated that maybe 100 California gnatcatchers live in the preserve.

(Photo: California gnatcatcher, USGS)