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For Immediate Release, January 5, 2010

Contact: Jacki Lopez, (415) 436-9682 x 305 or jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org

Two Endangered Birds, Native to Galápagos and Papua New Guinea, to Gain Protection

SAN FRANCISCO— As the result of a Center for Biological Diversity settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last June, a federal rule was finalized today to protect the Galápagos petrel and Heinroth’s shearwater as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. As part of the settlement, the Service also published proposed listing determinations for 12 birds from Peru, Bolivia, Europe, and the islands of French Polynesia.

“Protecting these species under the Endangered Species Act will give them a better chance of survival by prohibiting certain actions and allowing resources to flow toward their conservation,” said Center staffer Jacki Lopez. “And it will help attract worldwide attention to the urgent plight of these animals.”

The Service originally received petitions to list more than 70 species of the planet’s most imperiled birds — which live 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 spent the better part of two decades refusing to finalize listings for many of these species despite the fact that all of them had been found to warrant protection. Only because of recent Center lawsuits, negotiations, and court findings has progress been made toward protecting these species under the Act. As one judge bluntly noted in 2008, “If the Service were allowed to continue at its current rate, it is hard to imagine anytime in the near or distant future when these species will be entitled to listing.”

Last year, the Center again notified the Service it would 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. The final and proposed listings published today are the result of that settlement agreement.

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 lets the Fish and Wildlife Service encourage conservation programs and provide personnel and training. 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.

Background on the birds

The Galápagos petrel is a bird native to the epic Galápagos Islands. Introduced predators pose the greatest threat to this dark-rumped bird.

The Heinroth’s shearwater is an elusive bird thought to breed in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands; this bird is similarly threatened by the introduction of predatory species, and is also harmed by the destruction of habitat through deforestation as well as some commercial longline fishing operations.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has also proposed listing as endangered the ash-breasted tit-tyrant and royal cinclodes (native to Peru and Bolivia); the Junin grebe, Junin rail, Peruvian plantcutter, and white-browed tit-spinetail (native to Peru); and the Cantabrian capercaillie (of Spain), Eiao Polynesian warbler and Marquesan imperial pigeon (from French Polynesia), the greater adjutant (found in Cambodia and India), Jerdon’s courser (from India), and the slender-billed curlew (from Europe and Africa).

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

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 240,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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