The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal also highlights other threats beyond this loss of stopover fuel. Climate change is having ill effects on other elements of the red knot's diet and changing the character of its Arctic breeding grounds. The shorebird is also losing areas along its migratory range due to sea-level rise and coastal development.
So if the proposed "threatened" status for the red knot is confirmed, how can the Endangered Species Act offer protection to such an international species? Racey explained, "While the ESA's prohibitions regarding listed species—no harm, no kill, et cetera—apply only to people subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, the ESA can generate conservation benefits beyond its jurisdiction, such as increased awareness of listed species, research efforts to address conservation needs, or funding for in-situ conservation of the species in its range countries."
Holmer added that the ESA "can require states to adopt adequate regulatory mechanisms to limit horseshoe crab harvest," which "thus far, states have not been willing to do."
The service could also designate critical habitat for the shorebird, which,according to a FWS document, "could include sand dunes for roosting or habitat supporting prey, among other elements."
Last week's proposal to list the rufa red knot follows an "exhaustive scientific review" of the species and its habitat, but isn't the last step in the ESA process. By law, the proposal is now open to public comment for 60 days. After that period, the agency will release a final listing determination within a year.