U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Pacific Region
News Release
June 7, 2001
  Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento CA 95825
Phone: 916/414-6600
Fax: 916/414-6714
Contact: Patricia Foulk - 916/414-6566, e-mail: patricia_foulk@fws.gov




Genetics Study for Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Now Available

Public comments on bird's status sought

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is making available copies of a recent genetics study it commissioned to help determine whether the yellow-billed cuckoo in the western United States should be added to the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species. At the same time, the Service is reopening the comment period for the 12-month finding on a petition to list this species as endangered. The cuckoo is a secretive robin-sized bird that breeds in willow and cottonwood forests along rivers from southern Canada south to the Greater Antilles and Mexico.

In February 2000 the wildlife agency announced that a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the western yellow-billed cuckoo presented sufficient information to warrant a closer look at the bird's current status. Because the Act allows a subspecies or a distinct population segment of a species to be listed, the Service initiated a comprehensive review to determine whether to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a distinct population segment, one that is separated from other populations by physical, physiological, ecological or behavioral factors. The genetics study, "Taxonomic and Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) Status of Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus)," was prepared by Robert Fleischer of the Smithsonian Institute's National Zoological Park under contract with the Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The yellow-billed cuckoo breeds from southern Canada south to the Greater Antilles and Mexico. While the yellow-billed cuckoo is common east of the Continental Divide, biologists estimate that more than 90 percent of the bird's riparian habitat in the West has been lost or degraded as a result of conversion to agriculture, dams and river flow management, bank protection, overgrazing, and competition from exotic plants such as tamarisk.

Copies of the study are available from the Service and may be requested by contacting the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825, telephone: (916) 414-6600. Public comments on the cuckoo's status will be accepted until June 20, 2001.

The Service's decision on the petition is expected by July 19, 2001.

FWS --


NOTE: This news release and others can be viewed on either the Services Pacific Regional home page on the internet at http://pacific.fws.gov or the national home page at http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases.html

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