Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

Petition filed to protect the yellow-billed loon under the ESA

March 30, 2004

CONTACT: Corrie Bosman, Center for Biological Diversity, (907) 747-1463
Mike Frank, Trustees for Alaska, (907) 276-4244 x116
David Gordon, Pacific Environment, (510) 541-5334

Anchorage, AK- A coalition of US and Russian-based conservation groups today petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii) under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). With an estimated global population of only 16,650, the yellow-billed loon has the lowest worldwide population of all loon species, and is one of the rarest waterbirds to breed regularly in North America.

The yellow-billed loon breeds only in Canada, the United States and Eurasia. In the United States, its primary breeding grounds are the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). An estimated 18% of the world’s population of yellow-billed loons is speculated to live within the Reserve. “Population numbers of the yellow-billed loon are alarmingly low, and the Bush Administration’s actions are threatening their critical breeding habitat in Alaska,” stated Corrie Bosman, Alaska Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

Threats to the yellow-billed loon include: small population size and low productivity, oil and gas development, human disturbance, increased predation, marine pollution, incidental by-catch from fishing (particularly in Russia), and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. “Because of its small global population and the numerous threats facing this species, we are hopeful that the USFWS will recognize the immediate need to protect this species under the ESA,” explained Bosman.

In January 2004, the Administration opened 100 percent of the nearly 9 million acres of the Northwest portion of the NPR-A Reserve to oil and gas development. Eighty-seven percent of the 4.6 million acre Northeast Planning Area of the Reserve is already open to oil and gas leasing, and now the Bush Administration is seeking to open the remaining 13% originally set aside as important wildlife habitat. “Clearly there is little hope for the future of this species if we continue to allow the wholesale destruction of its nesting habitat by the highest bidder,” added Mike Frank, Senior Attorney with Trustees for Alaska.

While the yellow-billed loon has been recognized as species of special conservation concern by many federal and international entities, including listing under the Red Data Book in Russia, it continues to face a high risk of extinction throughout its range. David Gordon, Acting Executive Director with Pacific Environment, noted the international significance of Russian partners joining US conservation groups on the petition. “This effort demonstrates the level of international concern surrounding the future viability of the yellow-billed loon, and recognizes that a global protection effort is needed,” stated Gordon. Olga Andreevna Chernyagina, President of the Kamchatka League of Independent Experts and one of the co-petitioners added, “Inclusion of this species in the U.S. Endangered Species Act will assist in uniting efforts of Russia and the U.S. in protecting this species.”

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the petition on behalf of the US-based Natural Resource Defense Council, Pacific Environment, and Trustees for Alaska, as well as 7 Russian partners including the Kamchatka League of Independent Experts, Taiga Ranger, Wild Nature of Sakhalin, and the Kamchatka Branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography.

Additional information on the yellow-billed loon is available:

To view the ESA petition please click here.

To read the report: Status and Significance of Yellow-Billed Loon Populations in Alaska, please visit: (publications)


more press releases. . .

Go back