Yellow-billed parrot now protected

Yellow-billed parrot. Credit: ARKive © Wayne Sutherland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the Jamaican yellow-billed parrot is now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

From this excerpt of the final rule from the Department of the Interior:

“We are listing the yellow-billed parrot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) because of continued threats from deforestation, the pet trade, the risk of disease transmission, predation, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, and hurricanes. The species is only found on the island of Jamaica and has a fragmented and declining population. We are also publishing a special rule that allows the import into and export from the United States of certain captive-bred yellow-billed parrots, and certain acts in interstate commerce of yellow-billed parrots, without a permit under the Act.”

The designation came after a legal battle after the Friends of Animals petitioned the USFW on January 2008, to list 14 parrot species under the act.

Regulation-wise, this doesn’t mean much. The bird is a foreign species on the island of Jamaica, so the US can only impose restrictions and penalties on U.S. citizens or cases involving the species on U.S. soil, which the agency says ensures “individuals under the jurisdiction of the United States do not contribute to the further decline of a listed species.”

The new protections make it illegal to do any of the following in the U.S.:

  • import into and export from the U.S. listed species
  • take (take includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt any of these) listed species within the United States, its territorial waters, or on the high seas
  • deliver, receive carry, transport, or ship listed species in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity.
  • sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce; or
  •  possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship listed species taken in violation of the ESA.

As the USFW notes in this FAQ about the determination, the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction to impose habitat or other protections in other countries:

“Therefore, the Service does not have the authority or the jurisdiction to designate portions of a foreign listed species’ range as critical habitat. Nor does the Service review actions carried out by foreign nationals to ensure that they do not jeopardize continued existence of endangered and threatened species as is done with federal agencies in the United States.”

The decision allows comes with a special rule that allows U.S. import and export of certain captive salmon-crested cockatoos and yellow-billed parrots without a permit issued under the ESA, provided the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) are met.

The protections take effect on April 11 when it formally joins the federal register of protected species.

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