Flashy, quick Harlequin duck among HCP protection targets

Because it feeds and mates in near shore aquatic habitat, the Harlequin Duck is one of 29 species protected by the DNR's Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo by L. Barnes
Because it feeds and mates in near shore aquatic habitat, the Harlequin Duck is one of 29 species protected by the DNR’s Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo by L. Barnes

Meet the Harlequin duck.

Named after the colorfully-dressed Harlequin character from 16th Century Italian Commedia dell’arte, the flashy bird lives an agile, resourceful life along mountain streams and coastlines where it feeds on a mostly-animal diet of fish, crabs and mollusks.

Because Harlequin ducks rely on nearshore and streamside habitats to feed and nest, they are one of 29 species addressed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatics Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, or HCP.

Along with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service, DNR officials are unveiling an environmental analysis of the HCP at a series of public meetings this week and next.

A public meeting about the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the HCP will be at the Cowlitz County PUD office at 961 12th Ave. in Longview from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday.

Some 400 pairs of harlequin ducks nest along Olympic and Cascade mountain streams and an estimated 3,000 spend their winters along the outer coast and in northern Puget Sound, northern Hood Canal, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Archipelago. They may also be seen in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington.

Harlequin ducks are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, but are listed listed as a Species of Concern in Washington.

Threats that warrant protection of harlequin ducks include:

  • Changes in habitat structure
  • Increase in predation
  • Decline in water and sediment quality
  • Physical harm or harassment from covered activities

To find out how DNR’s HCP will protect habitat vital to the harlequin duck and 28 other species, attend tonight’s Longview meeting or upcoming meetings in Tacoma and Pasco.

To view the HCP and the draft Environmental Impact Statement, visit the DNR web site at: http://1.usa.gov/1pO9f3Y

Written comments on the Environmental Impact Statement will be welcomed until December 4, 2014, to be addressed to: Tim Romanski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 102, Lacey, WA, 98503; or Scott Anderson, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 103, Lacey, WA, 98503. Comments may also be submitted by email, to WFWOComments@fws.gov.

 

 

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