According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two macaws are now endangered species as a result of their declining populations due to habitat loss and poaching of the birds.
- The military macaws have a population between 6,000-13,000
- The great green macaws have an even smaller population, between 1,000-3,000
- Both birds joined the over 1,500 species already on the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
- The sage grouse and the Sonoran Desert tortoise have recently been denied a place on the list
The Endangered Species Act was established in 1973, and is currently administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since its inception, it has seen many changes, and now the number of protected species has reached 1,583 in the United States alone in 2015.
It’s often a long battle to either place or remove species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Many are pending, others have been undergoing research for decades, and several are asked to be urgently placed under federal protection.
Two great macaws, though, the military and great green macaw have recently made it through process and are officially protected.
Earlier conservation efforts were not enough to assure the survival of these beautiful two species of birds. In spite of attempts, their population continued to decline fast, and are now unfortunately heading for extinction. This has prompted environmental groups to poke and prod at the FWS until the macaws were officially added to the list.
While both are known for their travels across the world, the military macaws are spread in small pairs across the tropical forests of Mexico and South America. Their groups have been trimmed down to mere pairs, and currently have an estimated population between 6,000 to 13,000 adults, according to the FWS.
The great green macaws, are in an even worse situation. The suggested numbers of between 1,000 to 3,000 individual adults are spread through the tropical forests of Columbia, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Their fast and worrying decline has earned them a place on the ESA.
From now on, either of the two species of macaws will not be imported into the United States, nor will they be exported without a permit. Furthermore, authorization will be granted only for scientific purposes that will benefit the species and their declining population. Restoration of their habitat is part of the exceptions which will allow their transfer.
The military and great green macaws have been among the fortunate to be granted a place on the ESA. Others, such as the sage grouse, have been recently denied even though their specie was threatened by wildfires. The Sonoran Desert tortoise was also rejected from the list, under the explanation that their numbers have not seen a significant decline.
Environmental companies have actually applauded the decision and the approach the Interior Department has prompted. They have emphasized that federal agencies, landowners, and state departments should simply find a way to work together in order to prevent species from being listed in the first place.
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