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Turtle doves, puffins one step closer to extinction

By Marilyn Malara
Turtle doves, puffins one step closer to extinction
The International Union of Conservation of Nature has added Turtle Doves (above), puffins, Slavonian grebes and pochards to its "Red List," proving them one step closer to extinction. Photo by Protasov AN/Shutterstock

GLAND, Switzerland, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared the Atlantic puffin and European turtle dove "vulnerable" to global extinction and added them to its Red List of threatened species this week.

The U.K. birds are also joined by many other shorebirds and waders. Fellow newcomers the Slavonian grebe and pochard and are classified as "near threatened" due to such issues as breeding failures and challenged environments. About 14 other species from the region are already present on the Red List as "near threatened."

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"Today's announcement means that the global wave of extinction is now lapping at our shores," said Martin Harper, Conservation Director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "The number of species facing extinction has always been highest in the tropics, particularly on small islands. But now the crisis is beginning to exact an increasingly heavy toll on temperate regions too, such as Europe."

"The erosion of the U.K.'s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African Elephant and lion, and being more endangered than the humpback whale," Harper added.

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The IUCN 2015 Red List update of birds shows 40 species globally now have a higher risk of extinction, including six of Africa's 11 vulture species, four of which are now critically endangered, along with the Helmeted Hornbill and the Swift Parrot.

Meanwhile, 23 species including the Chatham petrel and Seychelles warbler have been downgraded to lower threat levels. The warbler has been moved back from the "vulnerable" to "near threatened," due to revitalization of its natural habitat. The RSPB reports last year, its dwindling population reached 2,800 and is expected to almost double in the near future.

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