The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified eight Icelandic bird species as either vulnerable or “near threatened”, including the iconic puffin.
RÚV reports three Icelandic bird species – the long-tailed duck, the black-tailed godwit and the Eurasian curlew – are already considered to be in trouble. Eight more species are now classified as either vulnerable or near threatened.
The six species now classified as near threatened are the razorbill, the red knot, the oystercatcher, the meadow pipit (whose numbers decreased by about 25% last year alone), the redwing and the common eider.
Two species are classified as in even greater danger: the horned grebe and the puffin.
As reported, puffin numbers have been dangerously low for a long time now, to where Erpur has warned that even a very brief three-day hunting season for the birds is too much.
The current state of the puffin population is due to a cyclical “warming up period” that happens around Iceland every 70 years or so.
“This decreases herring populations, which is the main source of food for puffins,” ornithologist Erpur Snær Hansen explained at the time. “We are experiencing one of these warming-up periods now, in addition to temperature changes in the sea caused by human activity. But the oceans should cool again by 2030, so it’s a question of whether the puffin can hang in there until then.”