and Private Partnership Funds New Aviary to Help Recover
the Endangered Puerto Rican Parrot
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With less than thirty parrots remaining in the wild, a new facility is urgently needed to ensure a successful captive breeding program. The ultimate goal is to re-introduce parrots back into the wild and create a viable population of one of Puerto Rico’s national icons.
“Today, we are delighted to announce that 75 percent of the construction is completed and the new aviary and captive propagation facility is slated to open this fall,” said Acting Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett. “We want to thank our partners and applaud their efforts to help save one of the world’s most endangered birds.”
The Foundation’s Executive Director Jeff Trandahl and Service Director H. Dale Hall presented awards to Wal-Mart, The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, Parrots International, individual donors and twelve Puerto Rican companies that form the non-profit organization Herencia.
“Today we are going back to Congress to show them how far we have come, the partnerships that have been forged, and how all these elements are coming together to save the Puerto Rican parrot,” said Hall. “No one single entity would be able to do it alone.”
In order to meet this funding challenge, the Foundation established broad partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations. “The Foundation is pleased that business leaders, individuals, and the nonprofit community have enthusiastically responded to the call to help the Puerto Rican parrot, both by raising funds and public awareness. Together the public and private sectors will do everything possible to conserve and restore this beautiful bird and cultural icon,” said Jeff Trandahl.
In addition to generous donations, some of the organizations recognized today will also host fundraising events in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. mainland to reach the $700,000 goal and help raise awareness of the plight of the parrot.
House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño, Governor Acevedo-Vila, and Loretta Beaumont, Staff Assistant on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, were also recognized for their leadership in helping to obtain the federal appropriation.
“The Puerto Rican Parrot is part of Puerto Rican cultural and natural heritage,” said Edwin Muñiz, field supervisor for the Service’s Caribbean Field Office.
At the turn of the 20th century, the only remaining population of wild parrots in Puerto Rico retreated to the Caribbean National Forest as the last place of refuge from human encroachment and deforestation. In 1973, the Service launched a captive breeding program with only 12 parrots. With the help of the U.S. Forest Service, biologists set up aviary operations at an old military facility in the Caribbean National Forest.
Limited space, frequent power failures and occasional landslides isolated the old facility, making it unsafe and hampering production. Despite these constraints, Service biologists managed to increase the parrot population to the point where several parrots were transferred to the José A. Vivaldi Aviary, managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, in the Río Abajo forest in 1993. Between these two aviaries, there are now nearly 170 parrots in captivity.
The plan is to make history again this year by releasing parrots into the wild for the first time at the Río Abajo Forest. With additional releases planned for 2007 and 2008, it is hoped a viable wild population will be established. Scientists are also researching an ideal location to establish a third population. The new aviary under construction will be instrumental in supporting and expanding this effort.
For more information on how you can help in recovery of this unique and endangered bird, please contact the following organizations:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible
for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and
their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The
Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System,
which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands
and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish
hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field
stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise
taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/. Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286