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Even the incredibly ugly wolffish has fans

October 4, 2008 | 12:03 am

Save_me

Battles over which species to protect--and which to leave to their own devices--continue all the time. Two species taking the spotlight this week: the wolffish and marbled murrelet.

Let's start with the aptly named wolffish. Reporting out of Portland, Maine, the Associated Press notes that, although not targeted by commercial fishermen, wolffish are in decline because nets and dredges are destroying their habitat. Here's what AP has to say about wolffish:

A ferocious-looking denizen of the deep that can gobble up whole urchins and crabs in a few swift chomps needs protection, according to a petition filed with the federal government.

The Conservation Law Foundation asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday to list the Atlantic wolffish — a species with large protruding teeth and a face that’s downright ugly — as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The fish, also called an ocean catfish, is under pressure from commercial and recreational fishermen and could be wiped out if nothing is done, the Boston-based conservation group said. "The fishing pressure is going to continue to haunt this fish right down to extinction unless something is done," said Peter Shelley, the foundation’s vice president.

Follow this link to the Portland Press Herald for more on the fish. Now to birds. AP, now reporting out of of Lacey, Wash., provides this update on the marbled murrelet:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday it will review the protected status of the marbled murrelet in response to a petition from the timber industry and others.

Several groups, including the American Forest Resource Council and Douglas County, Ore., have asked the agency to remove the bird from the federal list of protected species. The review is the latest in a long-running battle over marbled murrelets — small seabirds that nest in old-growth timber.

The birds are found from California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, but only the population in Washington, Oregon and California is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The 12-month review will determine whether the birds should be delisted or whether they also need protection in Alaska, said Joan Jewett, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

"We feel it’s overdue," said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council. "An overall status review is the best way to go." The seabird was declared an endangered species in 1992 after conservationists sued the government.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: Associated Press

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