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Conservation nonprofits sue state wildlife commission for failing to protect the imperiled seabird.

PHOTO BY ROBIN CORCORAN, USFWS - Five conservation groups say the state is not doing enough to protect the marbled murrelet from possible extinction. Five conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission for failing to move the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

The groups, which filed their lawsuit on Thursday, Aug. 2, first petitioned the commission to take the "uplist" action for the imperiled seabird in 2016. The commission initially voted 4-2 in February 2018 to accept the petition and instruct state staff to begin developing mandatory species survival guidelines. But under pressure from the logging industry, the groups contend, the commission reversed itself and voted again in June to deny the petition, by a 4-2 vote.

"The commission's reversal of its decision to uplist the marbled murrelet just four months earlier ignored science, the law and (the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's) mission to protect Oregon's imperiled wildlife," said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands, in a news release. "The reversal demonstrates this commission's active neglect of its duties towards imperiled species, and disappointingly, leaves the marbled murrelet on a path toward extinction in Oregon."

The suit was filed on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon Society of Portland, Defenders of Wildlife and Oregon Wild.

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