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U.S. Acts to Protect Rare Macaw Species


A macaw stands in the window ledge of apartment, waiting to be fed by the apartment owner, in Caracas, Venezuela.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is listing the military and great green macaws as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is listing the military and great green macaws as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Both bird species are endemic to Central and South America.

The agency found that both species are in decline, primarily due to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, small population size, and poaching. Further, the existing regulatory mechanisms designed to protect these macaws are not adequate to prevent those threats from impacting them throughout their ranges. As a result both macaws are at risk of extinction throughout their ranges.

The military macaw inhabits tropical, semi-deciduous forests in Mexico and South America. Although it has a large distribution, its population, ranging from 6,000 to 13,000 adults, is highly fragmented into small localized groups ranging from a few pairs to approximately 100 individuals.

The great green macaw occupies humid tropical forests primarily in Central America and parts of northern South America. Its population, now ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 individuals, is in decline.

The Service recognizes the valuable, ongoing conservation efforts to protect these species by a number of private individuals, national and local governments and nongovernmental organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fundación ProAves.

These efforts include providing training to local communities to monitor populations and studying species via satellite transmitters to determine the species’ home range and specific habitat. However, in spite of these notable contributions, great green and military macaw populations continue to decline.

As a result of this listing, certain activities involving these two bird species will be prohibited without a permit, including: import into and export out of the United States; “take” (defined by the Endangered Species Act as harm, harass, kill, injure, etc.) within the United States; and interstate and foreign commerce. By regulating these activities, the Endangered Species Act ensures that U.S. citizens and individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the United States do not contribute to the further decline of these species.

The United States is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled the military and the great green macaw other threatened species.

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