“An Environmental Success Story”

The following article from the Associated Press (via the Boston Globe) offers some hope that, amid the sea of bad news that daily laps at the shores of our lives, there remains the occasional island of good news:

Biologists endure isolation, noise and bird poop to aid puffins

EASTERN EGG ROCK, Maine –A puffin hops up onto a rock, notices another puffin standing on one leg nearby, and waddles to over to join him. The fact that the one-legged bird is a wooden decoy doesn’t seem to matter. Puffins love company.

Stephen Kress smiles as he watches from a blind about 20 yards away. The deception is one of the techniques he used to lure the colorful seabirds back to this rocky island.

“I used an old hunter’s trick, something that hadn’t been done with seabirds before,” whispers Kress, director of the National Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program.

Puffins, seabirds that resemble halfpint penguins except that they can fly, were decimated in the late 1880s by hunters for their meat and feathers in Maine. By 1901, Maine had just one pair of puffins, on Matinicus Rock, researchers said.

Though plentiful elsewhere, Kress three decades ago set about bringing them back to Maine’s islands, on the southern end of their range.

In 1973, with backing from the National Audubon Society and help from the Canadian Wildlife Service, Kress began transplanting 2-week-old puffin chicks from Great Island off Newfoundland, 1,000 miles to the northeast. The first returning bird came in 1977. Four years later, the first breeding pair was spied on the island.

These days there are 90 nesting pairs on Eastern Egg. All told, there are more than 700 nesting pairs four Maine islands, Kress said.

With seemingly daily stories of global warming and vanishing species, the restoration of puffins in the Gulf of Maine represents an environmental success story. [full text]

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One response

  1. Most Refreshing! Thank you – I hadn’t read that, so thank you for bring a hapy environmental story unlike the one from China where the Yangtze River dolphin that has the long nose like a sword is believed to be extinct. Maybe if they ever find some of these they can better protect them and bring them to the US, unlike the Asian countries that do not protect the environment.

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