SAVING THE GALÁPAGOS PETREL

The Galápagos petrel, a pelagic bird endemic to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, is known by locals as patapegada, or “web-footed one.” The petrel’s nesting burrows once speckled the islands’ humid, volcanic highlands, but this long-winged seabird has faced declines of 80 percent in the past 60 years. The primary threat to the Galápagos petrel is the destruction of its breeding habitat by introduced farm animals and predation by feral animals. As population numbers continue to decline due to agricultural activities that threaten the petrel’s habitat and range, its risk of extinction continues to increase.

In 1980, the International Council for Bird Preservation petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Galápagos petrel under the Endangered Species Act. Thirty years later — and after extensive Center legal involvement — in early 2010 the Service granted the seabird the federal safeguards it needs.