We are overjoyed that on Oct.1 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS) listed the military and great green macaws as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Both bird species are endemic to Central and South America. The final rule is effective Nov. 1.

Friends of Animals filed a legal petition with the UFWS back in 2008 requesting listing for 14 species of parrots. The agency found that 12 of the 14 species warranted a status review to determine if listing was appropriate. 

The agency found that the military and great green macaws are in decline, primarily due to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, small population size and poaching for the illegal pet trade. Further, the existing regulatory mechanisms designed to protect these macaws are not adequate to prevent those threats from impacting them throughout their ranges. As a result both macaws are at risk of extinction throughout their ranges – the definition of an endangered species – and in need of protection.

As a result of this listing, certain activities involving these two bird species will be prohibited without a permit, including: import into and export out of the United States; “take” (defined by the ESA as harm, harass, kill, injure, etc.) within the United States; and interstate and foreign commerce. By regulating these activities, the ESA ensures that U.S. citizens and individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the United States do not contribute to the further decline of these species.

Permits will be issued for otherwise prohibited activities only for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild, or to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, including but not limited to habitat restoration and research.

The military macaw inhabits tropical, semi-deciduous forests in Mexico and South America. Although it has a large distribution, its population, ranging from 6,000 to 13,000 adults, is highly fragmented into small localized groups ranging from a few pairs to approximately 100 individuals.

The great green macaw occupies humid tropical forests primarily in Central America and parts of northern South America. Its population, now ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 individuals, is in decline.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoting the recovery of many others.