The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently proposed listing (pdf) the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The red knot is a medium-sized shorebird about 9 to 11 inches in length that migrates more than 9,000 miles annually between its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. During its migration, the bird spends considerable time along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

According to the Service, the species has declined, in part, due to an increase in harvesting of horseshoe crab in Delaware Bay. Because the red knot relies on crab eggs as its primary food source, this reduction in food supply has caused the species’ population to decline. The Service also cites climate change and the loss of both breeding and nonbreeding habitat as threats to the species.

The Service will be accepting comments on its proposed rule until November 29, 2013. 

© Hans Hillewaert / CC-BY-SA-3.0