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Conservation Organization, Scientists File Suit Over Endangered Bird

Everglades NPS/ Flickr

An environmental conservation organization and two scientists are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other government bodies alleging the Corps’ water practices in the Everglades are threatening an endangered bird species.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit said the Cape Sable seaside sparrow lives in a restricted range in the Everglades.

The national non-profit’s Endangered Species Director Noah Greenwald said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began flooding a western part of Everglades National Parkin the 1990s.

Greenwald said that area also happened to be home to the largest population of these sparrows in the early ‘90s with more than 3,000 birds.

He said last year there were only about 64 birds there as water releases killed the bird’s nests and changed their habitat.

The lawsuit said the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have violated the Endangered Species Act, specifically, the part that prohibits federal actions from jeopardizing the existence of an endangered species.

Greenwald said they want to force the agencies to come up with measures that will allow the sparrows to recover.

“They need to release less water into Everglades National Park so that the sparrows have enough time to nest,” he said.

Greenwald said the solution to reducing those releases is Everglades restoration and returning water flows to their historic paths in the park.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative said they cannot talk about pending litigation.

But, in an email she wrote the Corps has changed its operations in the past to “take into consideration the needs of multiple endangered species that inhabit the area, including the Cape Sable seaside sparrow.’”

Read the lawsuit below:

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News.