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For Immediate Release, June 16, 2009

Contact: Jacki Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682, x 305 or

Thirty-one of Earth's Most Imperiled Birds to Gain Protection

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday that will compel the agency to provide protection for scores of the world’s most imperiled bird species and come into compliance with the Endangered Species Act. The Service has committed itself to publishing final listing determinations for six species of foreign birds and proposed listings for an additional 25 species, in accordance with a negotiated timeline that terminates on December 29, 2009.

The Service originally received petitions to list more than 70 species of the world’s most imperiled birds – which inhabit locations throughout the world, including Brazil, Spain, India, Eastern Europe, and the Marquesas Islands – in 1980 and 1991. In violation of the Endangered Species Act, the agency has spent the better part of two decades making recycled petition findings that these species continue to warrant listing, but that their listing is precluded due to higher-priority listings. Any progress that has been made toward protecting these species has been the result of Center lawsuits, negotiations, and court findings that if the Service continues at such a pace, “many of the species in question may very well be extinct by the time they are found to warrant a listing.”

So the Center again notified the Service of its intention to file suit for violations of the Endangered Species Act, and as a result of that notice reached a settlement with the agency to bring it into compliance with the Act.

“We are encouraged that the new administration is showing signs of clearing up its foreign listing program backlog and finally accepting its duty to list these extremely rare birds under the Endangered Species Act,” said Center International Program staffer Jacki Lopez. “Listing foreign species under the Act is an important step in spurring increased international recognition of those species’ urgent plights.”

Endangered Species Act listing provides substantial benefits to foreign species. It authorizes the president to provide financial assistance for the development and management of programs in foreign countries; and authorizes the Fish and Wildlife Service to encourage conservation programs for foreign endangered species and provide personnel and training for these programs. Beyond these basic protections, the Act also implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, a treaty designed to prevent species extinctions caused by international trade.

The Service itself acknowledges the benefits of listing foreign species to draw worldwide attention to their plight, to make available U.S. expertise and U.S. funds, and to compel the strict regulation of the import and export of protected species.

In order to adhere to the negotiated timeline, the Fish and Wildlife Service promises to publish final listing determinations for the Chatham petrel (Pterodroma axillaris), magenta petrel (Pterodroma magentae), and Cook’s petrel (Pterodroma cookii), in New Zealand; the Fiji petrel (Pterodroma macgillivrayi) in Fiji; the Galapagos petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) in Ecuador; and the Heinroth’s shearwater (Puffinus heinrothi) in Papua New Guinea.

The Service will propose listings for the Junin flightless grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii), Junin rail (Laterallus tuerosi), Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus), Caucau guan (Crax alberti), blue-billed curassow (Penelope perspicax), gorgeted wood-quail (Odontophorus strophium), southeastern rufous-vented groundcuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi dulcis), Margaretta's hermit (Phaethornis malaris margarettae), Esmeraldas woodstar (Chaetocerus berlepschi), royal cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae), white-browed tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura xenothorax), black-hooded antwren (Formicivora erythronotos), fringe-backed fire-eye (Pyriglena atra), brown-banded antpitta (Grallaria milleri), Kaempfer's tody-tyrant (Hemitriccus kaempferi), ash-breasted tit-tyrant (Anairetes alpinus), Peruvian plantcutter (Phytotoma raimondii), and cherry-throated tanager (Nemosia rourei) in South America; the greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius), salmon-crested cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis), and Eiao Polynesian warbler (Acrocephalus cafier aquilonis) in Southeast Asia; the Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus) in Spain; the Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) in India; the slender-billed curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) in Russia, Europe, and North Africa; and the Marquesan imperial pigeon (Ducula galeata) in the South Pacific.

Learn more about these species and the Center’s campaign to save them.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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