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Group Tries to Save the Last Parrot Species Indigenous to Mainland US


Thick-billed Parrot © M Stafford

Courthouse News Service reported that the environmentalist group, WildEarth Guardians, petitioned the American Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, to force the government to implement a recovery plan for the last surviving parrot species in the United States.

The US government has never developed a recovery plan for the thick-billed parrot which has been on the Endangered Species List since the Endangered Species Act’s formation in 1973.

The thick-billed parrot, and the Carolina parakeet were the only two parrot species indigenous to the United States.  Now there is an estimated 2000 to 2800 adult thick-billed parrots remaining in the wild in the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico.  Natural flocks of thick-bills were last seen in 1964 in the Animas Mountains of southwest New Mexico.  Perceived as pests by farmers and being valued for their feathers for the adornment of lady’s hats, the Carolina parakeet was hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s.

Flocks of the thick-billed parrot were spotted as far north as Central Arizona in the early 1900’s but now only rarely range over the US Mexican boarder.  Hunting and logging of old growth forests are primarily blamed for the parrot’s disappearance in the United States.

Reintroduction of the species to Arizona in the 1980s, and early ‘90s, has to this point been met with limited success.  Arizona Game and Fish Department and birding groups released 88 thick-billed parrots bred from zoos and pet traders into the Chiricahua Mountains.  Some parrots formed flocks and migrated while the captive bred birds were prayed upon by raptors.

WildEarth Guardians are seeking an injunction requiring the government to develop a recovery plan for the parrot.

Courthouse News Service link

WildEarth Guardians link

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