WASHINGTON (CN) – Four species of Central and South American macaws warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The hyacinth, military, great green and scarlet macaws are endangered by loss of habitat and capture for the international pet trade, according to USFWS 12-month species reviews.
Habitat loss has been caused both by deforestation for cattle-ranching and agricultural production, and a warmer, dryer environment due to global warming.
These species occur in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
The hyacinth macaw is the largest flying parrot species, measuring over three feet from tail to head. The other three macaw species also are medium to large sized birds whose ranges extend across the Amazon rain forest to the jungles of Mexico.
This is the last group of listing recommendations the USFWS issued in response to a 2008 petition from Friends of the Animals to list 14 species of parrots as endangered under the act.
The scarlet macaw is semi-nomadic with flocks following the fruiting of canopy trees across its range. Like most parrot species, scarlet macaws are long-lived and breed infrequently making their population vulnerable to even slight changes in nesting sites, or predation on their nests by invasive species.
The USFWS said the northern subspecies of the scarlet macaw and its northern distinct population segment warrant protection under the act while sufficient numbers of other populations exists to preclude their listing under the act.
In addition to deforestation for agriculture, the military macaw faces loss of habitat from mining and construction of hydroelectric dams which deprive its favored nesting and foraging trees of the nutritious sediment periodic floods wash down river.
The great green macaw is perhaps the most endangered of the four species with no more than 3,700 individuals believed to exist in the wild.
None of the four species are endemic to the U.S. so their listing under the act mostly covers trade in the species. Under the USFWS’s listing proposals, trade of eggs, feathers or individuals of the four species taken from the wild would be entirely prohibited. Exceptions are allowed for scientific research and species conservation programs.
The USFWS seeks public comment on the scientific data used to make the listing determinations, provide data that may be missing from the evidence already on record, and further elaborate on the potential impact of global warming on all four species.
The public will have until Sept. 4 to comment on the proposed listing.
In 2010, Friends of the Animals filed suit against the USFWS for not taking action on the petition in a timely manner, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals approved a staggered schedule of listing determinations.