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July 19, 2000 Contact:

Contact: Elsie Davis, 404/ 679-7107

On June 27, ten captive-reared Puerto Rican parrots were released into the Caribbean National Forest to join the last 40 Puerto Rican parrots surviving in the wild. Today, nine of those ten parrots are still alive, healthy, and adapting to their new environment. One bird was lost on July 1, and although its cause of death remains unknown, the other birds are in good shape, foraging on wild fruits and flying around the release area.

"We know that the first seven days after any release are the most critical to the birds' survival," said Agustin Valido, Field Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Field Office. "Over three weeks have passed and we still have 90 percent survival. The parrots' survival chances increase with each day that passes. As they adapt to the wild, visits to supplemental feeders have declined, and some of the birds are beginning to forage and fly further away from the flock."

The June 27, 2000 release of parrots highlighted a 32-year cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and Puerto Rico=s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to help save this endangered species from extinction.

When the Puerto Rican parrot was listed as an endangered species in 1967, only 24 individuals remained in the wild and, by 1975, the population had reached an alarming low of only 13 birds. Now, thanks to the intensive effort of the three agencies involved in the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, there are 49 parrots in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages one aviary in El Yunque, and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources manages the Jose L. Vivaldi aviary at the Rio Abajo Commonwealth Forest. A total of 103 captive-reared birds are housed at these two aviaries.

The ten captive-reared parrots selected for the June release were chosen based on their youth (1 to 4 years of age); genetic and biological characteristics; behavior; and physical condition. The release was scheduled for late June, following the parrot's nesting season, when breeding and non-breeding birds are most likely to flock together. Flocking provides protection from predators. A second release of Puerto Rican parrots is expected next year. Eventually, plans are to establish a second population of parrots in the wild with captive-reared birds.

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 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System of more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 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 governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.


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Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286



Release #: R00-031

2000 News Releases

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