Eskimo Curlew

North America


Numenius borealis


  • Over hunting
  • Habitat degradation
  • Loss of key prey species
  • Low reproductive rate

In the earlier part of the 19th century, the tundra ecosystems of western Arctic Canada and Alaska were filled with mottled brown-colored shorebirds called Eskimo Curlew. By late 1800s, approximately two million of this migratory bird species are killed every year.

The last documented detection of the Eskimo Curlew was in 1962 although there was a single confirmed sighting in 1987. Its classification as a presumed extinct species stems mainly from the near total loss of its habitat range to agricultural activities as well as over hunting during the spring season. Because of its low reproductive rate, population growth and recovery also proves to be challenging.

This was compounded by the fact that its food options are limited with the extinction of the migratory grasshopper species, the Rocky Mountain Locusts, its main food source. Because of the threat of these seasonal locusts to crop planting and agriculture, aggressive control measures were put into action which ensures its destruction – therefore sealing the fate of the Eskimo Curlew.