WASHINGTON – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will protect six South American bird species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) under a final rule announced on Tuesday.
The six species are the ash-breasted tit-tyrant, Junín grebe, Junín rail, Peruvian plantcutter, royal cinclodes and white-browed tit-spinetail. Two of these species, the ash-breasted tit-tyrant and royal cinclodes, are native to Peru and Bolivia, while the remaining four species occur only in Peru.
The primary factor leading to the listing of these species is habitat destruction and degradation. All six species have specific habitat requirements and are at risk throughout their entire range, primarily due to habitat destruction caused by ongoing human activities. These activities alter and destroy habitat, which has resulted in range reductions for these foreign bird species.
Addition of a foreign species to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife places restrictions on the importation of either the animal or its parts. Listing also can generate conservation benefits, such as increasing awareness of the species, prompting research efforts to address their conservation needs, or funding conservation in range countries.
The ash-breasted tit-tyrant, Peruvian plantcutter, royal cinclodes and white-browed tit-spinetail are forest species, whose ranges have become highly fragmented as a result of habitat-altering activities such as clearing (for agriculture and grazing) and fuel wood extraction. The Junín grebe and Junín rail are water birds that are endemic to a single lake (Lake Junín) where water availability and quality have been compromised by ongoing manipulations in water levels (for hydropower generation) and mining activity, as well as threats from disease caused by contamination of the lake water. The Junín rail is also subject to predation, especially when water levels are low. All of the species are further at risk due to their extremely small population sizes, which compromises their ability to adapt to ongoing human activities or unexpected natural events, USFWS said.
Currently, there are about 600 foreign species listed under the ESA, compared to about 1,390 species native to the United States. While the USFWS has no regulatory jurisdiction in other countries, the ESA requires the agency to protect species as endangered if they are in danger of extinction, and as threatened if they are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, regardless of which country the species lives in.
Listing foreign species under the ESA can generate conservation benefits such as increased awareness of listed species, research efforts to address conservation needs or funding for conservation of the species in its range countries, USFWS said. The ESA provides for limited financial assistance to develop and manage programs to conserve listed species in foreign countries, encourages conservation programs for such species and allows for assistance for programs, such as personnel and training.