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Group files lawsuit to protect Northeast songbird

A national conservation group has filed a lawsuit seeking endangered species protection for the Bicknell’s thrush, a songbird that breeds in the Northeast U.S., including Maine, and eastern Canada.

The Center for Biological Diversity, based in Vermont, filed the lawsuit today. It seeks to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the bird as endangered.

The group filed a petition seeking protection for the bird in 2010, and says the agency’s decision on that petition is now two years overdue.

Members of the group say most of the thrush’s habitat – dense, coniferous forests – could be lost due to climate change.

“The thrush is an icon of our New England woods, but it’s disappearing right before our eyes,” says Mollie Matteson, a conservation advocate for the group, in a statement. “This songbird needs Endangered Species Act protection to stand a chance in the face of climate change.”

The group says climate models indicate that the songbird’s breeding habitat in the Northeast is shrinking quickly, and scientists ahve already documented yearly population declines of nearly 20 percent in some parts of the bird’s range.