GCA's current proposal for provisioning Red Knots: Current Proposal

News Flash

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after years of advocacy to list red knots on its Endangered Species list, has proposed to accept the rufa red knot as a threatened species worthy of conservation and protection. “Threatened” means “it is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range”. This should be a very meaningful step, although we all know how slowly some government wheels turn. Let’s hope they get up to speed in time.

GCA is a recipient of two grants from Patagonia, Inc. under its Environmental Grants Program. We are most appreciative of this financial support from a company that puts its money and its business practices squarely in the green corner. 

Red Knots Return Every Year to Cape May

Well, we expect they will. And they will. But how many and for how long? Since GCA began monitoring the reports from researchers who census Red Knots in their South American wintering habitats, the total number for the rufa subspecies of red knot counted in Argentina has bounced between a low of 11,000 birds to a high of about 26,000 birds. Even the higher counts that buck the trend, while they tease us with hope, do not engender confidence that the knots have escaped the reach of extinction.

There is a fickle and hard-to-define formula at work here that flirts with disaster, as the population numbers overall have steadily diminished.  It will get worse if:  a) the downward trend simply continues, for whatever reasons, or b) some egregious event claims more knots, like an oil spill (If they can toxify the Gulf of Mexico, they can make a total mess of Delaware Bay.), like an extra-nasty Arctic spring with a late thaw, or c) if there is even more reduction in the volume of egg-laying horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay ( Hurricane Sandy ripped away portions of the egg-laying beaches.  Changes in climate may impact the synchronicity of the patterns of crabs and knots. The medical-industrial complex, meaning the lysate industry, is reported to have significantly increased the volume of its horseshoe crab harvest, despite quotas and moratoriums; and its estimates of crab mortality are consistently challenged by conservationists).