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For Immediate Release, August 11, 2011

Contact: Justin Augustine, (415) 436-9682 x 302

Six Imperiled Foreign Bird Species to Gain Endangered Status

SAN FRANCISCO— In response to decades-old listing petitions and a series of lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated six foreign bird species as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act: the Cantabrian capercaillie, Marquesan imperial pigeon, Eiao Marquesas reed warbler, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s courser and slender-billed curlew.

A campaign to protect many of the world’s rarest birds began in the 1980s, when worried ornithologists began submitting Endangered Species Act petitions to protect more than 70 international bird species. By 1994, the Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that most of the birds deserved protection under the Act, but delayed finalization of listing decisions. In 2004 and 2006, Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits jump-started the foreign-species listing program; in 2008 the Service published listing proposals for five birds and determined that 45 other foreign bird species deserved protection. After another Center lawsuit in 2009, the Service agreed to propose listings for more species, including the six very rare birds that received final protection today.

Listing non-U.S. species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act restricts buying and selling of imperiled wildlife, increases conservation funding and attention, and can add scrutiny to development projects proposed by U.S. government and multilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank that would destroy or alter the species’ habitat.

“We’re pleased to see these birds receiving the protection they’ve needed for so long,” said Justin Augustine, a Center attorney. “These birds are literally at extinction’s door, and their listing should have occurred more than a decade ago. Protecting them under the Endangered Species Act will give them a better chance of survival, and it will help attract worldwide attention to their urgent plight.”

The Cantabrian capercaillie is found in northwestern Spain, and its population is likely fewer than 1,000 birds. The Marquesan imperial pigeon is endemic to the French Polynesian Marquesas Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and the most recent survey puts its numbers at just 80-150 birds. The Eiao Marquesas reed warbler also lives in the French Polynesian Archipelago and continues to face serious ongoing habitat degradation. The greater adjutant was once common throughout much of Southeast Asia, but is currently restricted to India and Cambodia due to significant habitat loss and modification. The Jerdon’s courser is a small, nocturnal bird endemic to India and is critically endangered due to past and ongoing habitat destruction. The slender-billed curlew, believed to breed in Siberia, once had flocks reported as hundreds, sometimes thousands, strong. Sadly, the most recent population estimate is fewer than 50 birds.

Read about the Center's International Birds Initiative.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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