FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2001
"This is another great day for all Puerto Ricans, but in particular for the endangered Puerto Rican parrot," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "If we can sustain the success rate for reintroduction, we may be able to soon add a second location to help these rare and beautiful birds regain their lost habitat."
Approximately 40 parrots live in the wild at the Caribbean National Forest. Another 126 parrots live in two aviaries on Puerto Rico. They are being bred to augment the wild population.
Once there were thousands -- possibly a million -- Puerto Rican parrots, but hunting and trapping nearly wiped them off the face of the island. The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as many educational entities and interest groups, have been working for more than 30 years to recover the only endemic parrot of Puerto Rico.
"Our ultimate goal is to have thousands of Puerto Rican parrots throughout Puerto Rico, but we have to take it a step at a time," said Agustin Valido, Puerto Rican parrot Recovery Coordinator for the Service. "If these birds do as well as the first group, we have a super chance to increase the number of breeding pairs -- a key component in the recovery effort."
This is the second time captive-reared parrots have been released into the wild. Valido said the first 10 captive-reared parrots released last June had a 50 percent survival rate (5 dead, 2 known living and 3 status unknown). Predation by red-tailed hawks caused the deaths.
On April 22, 2001, someone broke into the Aviary at the Caribbean National Forest, stealing an undisclosed number of parrots. A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the conviction of those involved in the theft. Anyone with information about this incident should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Luis Santiago at (787) 749-4338.
For more information about the Puerto Rican parrot reintroduction program, visit: http://southeast.fws.gov/prparrot/index.html.
Public Commemoration for the release will be held June 2, 2001 at El Portal, Caribbean National Forest. For more information on the celebration, contact Ms. Blanca Ruiz, U.S. Forest Service at (787) 888-5611.
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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 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 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://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
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