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Group Commemorates Passenger Pigeon’s Extinction, Requests Protection for Another Imperiled Bird Species

Date
September 1, 2011
Contact
Taylor Jones (303) 353-1490
In This Release
Wildlife

Thursday, September 1, 2011
Group Commemorates Passenger Pigeon’s Extinction, Requests Protection for Another Imperiled Bird Species

Petition Filed to Protect Black-capped Petrel under the ESA
Contact: Taylor Jones (303) 353-1490

Washington, DC – WildEarth Guardians is commemorating theextinction of the passenger pigeon today by taking action to protect anotherimperiled bird species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). September 1marks the 97th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the lastof which, “Martha,” died on this date in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Martha and kin did not have the protection of the ESA toprevent their extinction. While some endangered birds– such as whooping cranes,bald eagles, and California condors – have benefited from the ESA, others facegrave threats with no legal protection.

“The Endangered Species Act is the most effective law forprotecting and recovering imperiled species, bar none,” said Taylor Jones ofWildEarth Guardians. “If passenger pigeons had been listed, we might have savedthem from extinction.”

In recognition of the passenger pigeons’ tragic legacy,WildEarth Guardians is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to listthe black-capped petrel, another severely imperiled bird species, as“threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA. Black-capped petrels nest in Haitiand the Dominican Republic and forage for squid, fish, chum, and sargassumalgae in the nutrient rich upwellings of the Gulf Stream off the southeasternUnited States. Surveys of remaining colonies in Haiti revealed a populationdecline of 40 percent in 20 years. There are only 5 known nesting pairsremaining in the Dominican Republic.

“By the time people realized passenger pigeons were on theverge of extinction, it was too late to save them,” continued Jones. “It’s not too late for black-cappedpetrels, but they need all the help they can get.”

Black-capped petrels face dangers from deforestation,hunting, predation from introduced mammals, inadequate regulatory protections,and other threats, including a naturally low birth-rate, mercury contamination,and climate change effects. Listing under the ESA would help protect thespecies from threats such as seismic exploration for off-shore energydevelopment in crucial foraging areas in U.S. waters. Listed migratory speciesthat spend part of the year in the U.S. also benefit from the development ofrecovery plans under the ESA. Listing would also support conservation effortsin Haiti and the Dominican Republic and could help protect the birds frompotential international trade.

“The passenger pigeon is gone but not forgotten,” saidJones. “Hopefully we can memorialize its passing by inspiring action for otherbird species like the black-capped petrel so that they might avoid thepassenger pigeon’s fate.”

Passenger Pigeon Day Graphic 2011

Other Contact
Martha and kin did not have the protection of the ESA to prevent their extinction. While some endangered birds– such as whooping cranes, bald eagles, and California condors – have benefited from the ESA, others face grave threats with no legal protection.
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