WASHINGTON, DC – Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians, represented by the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver, obtained a court order last week that requires Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to determine whether 12 parrots warrant federal protection by November 2011 (FRIENDS OF ANIMALS et al. v. KEN SALAZAR (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action 10-357)). The 12 parrots are: Blue-headed macaws, Crimson shining parrots, Great green macaws, Grey-cheeked parakeets, Hyacinth macaws, Military macaws, Philippine cockatoos, Red-crowned parrots, Scarlet macaws, White cockatoos, Yellow-billed parrots, and Yellow-crested cockatoos. The birds have been awaiting a decision for two and one half years.

“Secretary Salazar has continued the Bush administration’s policies on endangered species, by foot-dragging and obstructing protection for critically imperiled animals and plants. The court order is good news for these parrots, but we will continue to press until they are actually afforded full federal safeguards under the Endangered Species Act,” said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians.

The beauty of these birds has brought them tragedy, for all are coveted as pets. Many die as youngsters in the stream of commerce before even reaching a market or pet store. They are captured with nets, or their nesting trees are hacked down and the young snatched away. This is a deadly trauma for the birds taken, and the birds left behind. The latter have no way to return to the trees they have chosen as their homes and reproduction sites.

Moreover, these birds usually mate for life and their low reproduction rates makes nest-robbing a major setback to their population in a given area. Another threat stems from growing human populations in the various countries to which these birds are native. Increases in human numbers lead to escalating destruction of these parrots’ habitat, as well as more exploitation of the birds for food or captivity.

Friends of Animals legal vice-president Lee Hall expressed appreciation for the skill and diligence of Denver University’s Environmental Law Clinic in confronting this tragedy and working to shift the tide. “It’s urgent that the United States take these birds’ lives and habitats seriously. We’re pleased to see this court order in 2010, which the United Nations named the International Year of Biodiversity,” said Hall.

Approximately a year ago, on 14 July 2009, Secretary Ken Salazar initiated a status review of the 12 parrot species to see if they warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act. Acting on a 2008 petition from Friends of Animals, he issued a preliminary decision in which he found that the petition contained sufficient data to warrant the full review. However, in response to Secretary Salazar’s subsequent failure to make a final decision on the birds’ fate, the groups filed a civil action on March 2, 2010 challenging the delayed finding. The birds have no federal protection under the Endangered Species Act until they are formally added to the endangered species list.

The Environmental Law Clinic at Denver University reports that the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of Interior has agreed to issue, and deliver for publication in the Federal Register, a 12-month findings on the four of the species no later than July 29, 2011, and on all 12 of the species by November.

Lee Hall of Friends of Animals stated, “The international community is on notice: We insist that these birds’ interest in their habitat be respected, and that they live free on Nature’s terms. We’re pulling for the day bird cages will be found only in antique stores.”


Friends of Animals, founded in 1957, advocates for the interests of animals to live free according to their own terms.

WildEarth Guardians is dedicated to protecting and restoring wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers in the American West.

The University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law has been engaged in clinical education for 106 years. Since 1984, the Environmental Law Clinic has represented environmental advocacy organizations before courts and administrative agencies in a broad range of environmental matters, including endangered species, public lands, air quality and public health.