Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
|For Immediate Release: October 3, 2003||
Norton Announces Agreement By US Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Colorado to Conserve Mountain Plovers
(DENVER) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced a new agreement with the State of Colorado to promote the conservation of mountain plovers on agricultural lands while providing assurances to farmers and ranchers that they will not be prosecuted for inadvertently violating a federal law protecting the birds.
Mountain plovers are high
prairie birds that nest in open areas such as farm and ranch fields.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (CDNR), participating
farmers and ranchers agree to notify the state at least 72 hours before
tilling their fields, allowing biologists to survey and flag plover
Farmers and ranchers also
agree to till around the nests while gaining assurances they will not
be prosecuted by the Department of Justice under the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act, which strictly protects all migratory birds, if they accidentally
harm a bird.
"This agreement is a
classic example of the kind of win-win partnership that is essential
to successful conservation of our wildlife and its habitat," Norton
said. "Freed from concerns that mountain plovers might delay or
prevent them from tilling their fields, farmers and ranchers have become
full partners in conserving this species while still producing food
for America's tables."
CDNR Executive Director Greg
Walcher and Acting FWS Regional Director John Blankenship signed the
agreement today in Denver
In addition to today's agreement,
the Department of Defense is joining with Colorado State University,
the University of Colorado, and others to fund a range-wide mountain
plover natural history study that is in the final stages of completion
by the University of Denver.
In addition, the Service
has initiated discussions with the Agriculture Department's Natural
Resources Conservation Service to explore ways to benefit mountain plovers
on private lands. These include grazing plans that encourage high grazing
intensity in plover nesting areas.
The mountain plover averages
8 inches in body length and is similar in size and appearance to the
killdeer. It is light brown above with a lighter colored breast, but
lacks the contrasting dark breast belt common to most other plovers,
including the killdeer. It eats insects such as beetles, grasshoppers,
crickets and ants. Its scientific name is Charadrius montanus. Information
on the mountain plover can be found by searching http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/mtnplover
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