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Golden Cheeked Warbler Creates Concern Among Texas Environmental Groups

The endangered species classification of the Golden Cheeked Warbler is causing two Texas environmental groups to join the legal fight to keep the bird classified as endangered.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Travis Audubon, the Texas Ornithological Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife filed a motion on Tuesday asking a judge to let them intervene in a lawsuit by the Texas General Land Office to take the bird off of the endangered species list.

The Texas Public Policy Institute, representing the General Land Office, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June. The lawsuit alleges that a 2015 survey shows that the bird has recovered and should be removed from the list. The GLO is also alleging that recent appraisal surveys show that bans of tree cutting have caused 2,326-acre parcels in Bexar and Kendall counties to lose 43 percent of its value.

“We’re not going to let rich developers collude with the Trump administration to push these beautiful little birds toward extinction,” said Ryan Shannon, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, “Warblers belong in the Hill Country. Fish and Wildlife experts rightly found the birds are still at risk from reckless development, so we’re intervening to make sure the administration doesn’t settle this case and tamper with the agency’s science-based decision.”

In a statement from June, Land Commissioner George P. Bush defending the GLO's actions, saying that is time to delist the Golden Cheeked Warbler.

"Leaving a species on the endangered list after its recovery is not only ineffective, it's irresponsible," said Bush. "The restoration of the golden-cheeked warbler population is a success story worth celebrating by removing it from the endangered list and restoring the rights of Texas landowners to effectively manage our own properties."

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Golden Cheeked Warbler is described as "a small songbird endemic to the Hill Country of central Texas, with striking yellow markings on its cheeks."

Photo by the Hill Country Alliance

Photo by the Hill Country Alliance

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