Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 21, 2016

Contact: Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190,

Rare Puerto Rican Bird Receives Endangered Species Act Protection
With 27,125 Acres of Proposed Critical Habitat

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Thanks to a landmark settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today gave Puerto Rico’s elfin-woods warbler Endangered Species Act protection. Most of the warbler’s habitat has been lost to urban and agricultural development.

“With the help of the Endangered Species Act, the elfin-woods warbler will recover, like other Puerto Rican birds before it,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “The Endangered Species Act has an excellent track record at increasing or stabilizing populations of birds like the Puerto Rican parrot, yellow-shouldered blackbird and Puerto Rican plain pigeon.”

The elfin-woods warbler is a tiny, 5-inch bird that was first discovered in the dwarf forests of El Yunque National Forest in the 1970s. Today’s decision proposes protecting 27,125 acres of the bird’s habitat in the Maricao, San German, Sabana Grande, Yauco, Rio Grande, Canovanas, Las Piedras, Nagaubo, Ceiba, Cayey, San Lorenzo, Guayama and Patillas municipalities in Puerto Rico.

In 2004 the Center petitioned to protect the warbler under the Endangered Species Act. The Service had previously listed the bird as a candidate for listing from 1982-1996, and again in 1999 due to high-magnitude threats.

The decision to protect the warbler as “threatened” is the result of a historic settlement agreement between the Center and the Service that expedites decisions on protections for 757 species around the country. To date the agreement has resulted in endangered species protections for 145 species and proposed protections for another 33.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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