island conservation guam kingfisher

Pacific Island Birds Saved From Extinction. What’s Next?

Report finds that mainland and island birds benefit from the Endangered Species Act and captive breeding programs, but many are still in need of protection.

A report has found that 61% of Pacific Island bird populations protected by the Endangered Species Act have demonstrated recovery about 20% less than mainland bird populations. The report states that the Guam Rail and Guam Kingfisher would have gone extinct if it were not for captive breeding programs at Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo.

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Guam Rail. By Jean

According to the study,

The prevalence of invasive species that prey on native birds is one reason populations in the Pacific Island region aren’t recovering as robustly as their U.S. counterparts…There is also the matter of funding: Programs supporting bird populations on the mainland get more dollars than those focused on Pacific Island birds.

The Guam Rail and Guam Kingfisher populations declined sharply following the introduction of the Brown Tree Snake. The unsuspecting native birds were not equipped to defend themselves against the novel predator. Megan Ross, Lincoln Park Zoo’s vice president of animal care and the Species Survival Plan coordinator for Guam Rails from 2002 to 2012 says:

Since [the birds] are island-dwelling species, they did not have the necessary instincts for this type of predator.

Plans to reintroduce the birds into the wild on Rota and Cocos Islands near Guam are currently in the making.

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Cocos Island. By Emmy Allen

Featured photo: A Guam kingfisher at Lincoln Park Zoo. By Heather Paul
Read the original article at Chicago Tonight

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

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