Author photo

By azgfd 

AZGFD Co-authors Unprecedented International Recovery Plan

The endangered thick-billed parrot will benefit from plan.


One of only two species of parrots historically found in the United States, the thick-billed parrot, will benefit from a recovery plan coauthored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The plan aims to grow the bird’s numbers by focusing recovery on protecting, managing and restoring mature and old-growth conifer forests in Mexico.

The plan was published today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and represents the first time that the U.S. has adopted another country’s endangered species recovery plan. The U.S. recovery plan closely follows the Mexican thick-billed parrot recovery plan with additional required elements added by the Service because the parrot is now found only in Mexico.

Concentration On Core Range

Species experts recommend that recovery efforts concentrate on those populations already established in Mexico, where relatively large contiguous parcels of suitable habitat still exist within the birds’ core range. Potential habitat in the U.S., once part of the northern edge of the parrot’s historical range, is more fragmented and less suitable.

“After extensive review, it was apparent that we had a better chance of restoring populations of thick-billed parrot in Mexico rather than attempting to reintroduce the species with a cost-prohibitive captive breeding program in the U.S. and where habitat is more limited,” says Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and co-signor of the plan.

PARROT PLAN -- The endangered thick-billed parrot will benefit from an international plan that focuses on recovery on protecting, managing, and restoring mature and old-growth conifer forests in Mexico.

In developing the plan, biologists considered a captive breeding program in the U.S. that would provide birds for release. However, the estimated initial cost of $25 million over 15 years was determined to be prohibitive with little chance of success. Attempts to re-establish the bird in Arizona between 1986 and 1993 were unsuccessful partially due to the captive-raised birds’ reduced ability to survive in the wild.

‘It Makes More Sense’

“It just makes more sense to recover the birds in Mexico where we know they can exist and reproduce rather than try to establish a breeding population in Arizona where conditions are less suitable for the parrots,” says Larry Riley, assistant director for Game and Fish’s wildlife management.

The thick-billed parrot disappeared from the U.S. more than 70 years ago. Historically, the species was known to visit southeast Arizona and possibly northwest New Mexico, but a breeding population of birds could never be confirmed. The most recent estimates indicate that at a minimum there are just over 2,000 thick-billed parrots, all in the states of Chihuahua and northwest Durango in Mexico.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024