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Cute Little River Bird Is No Longer Endangered

interior-least-tern.jpg
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
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Weighing in at less than two ounces, the Interior Least Tern is an extremely cute bird.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the Interior Least Tern from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife, saying the population has largely recovered.

The tiny bird is white and black with a bright yellow beak and long legs. It nests along the sand and gravel bars of the Lower Mississippi River and its tributaries, the Missouri, Red, Ohio and Arkansas rivers.

Years of river damming and engineering destroyed the terns’ nesting habitat and its population plummeted to less than 2,000 in 1985, when it was listed as endangered.

Leopoldo Miranda, Southeast Regional Director of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said there are now nearly 20,000.

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Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife
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If you thought the adult Interior Least Tern was cute, just check this out.

“This is a great great day for conservation and for that great little bird that we all love,” he said during a press conference. “This accomplishment took many years”

Officials say they worked with multiple states and agencies over decades to create new habitat around bays, large rivers and salt flats, and to limit development in those areas.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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