Don't Stop Until this Extinct Bird Returns to Guam

  • by: Jessica Ramos
  • recipient: Ray Mabus, United States Secretary of the Navy and Dan Ashe, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The Guam Micronesian kingfishers were driven to extinction in the wild by the invasive brown tree snake, that arrived via cargo ships post-World War II. When the bird's numbers dropped to an alarming 29 individuals in the 1980s, conservationists airlifted those birds to zoos to recover. Fortunately, they've jumped from 29 to 150 birds, and the kingfishers are ready to return home.

But where is home?

According to Scienceline, it's still Guam. But efforts to eradicate the brown tree snake have been largely unsuccessful, so it's not the ideal location yet. Plus, the U.S. Navy is planning on relocating Marine families to the Western Pacific island from Japan, which will further destroy precious kingfisher habitat. (Although the U.S. Navy has committed to preserving space for the birds and to allocate funds for their protection.) Another idea is to relocate the birds to snake-free islands, but there's not enough funding for that yet. Unfortunately, the Guam Micronesian kingfisher doesn't have years left. While its numbers are increasing, its gene pool is decreasing. The birds have to return to the wild to recover the genetic diversity key to its survival. But some experts fear that the motivation to return the birds to the wild is waning

But where there's a will, there's a way. Sign and share this petition urging the U.S. Navy and U.S. FWS to keep the momentum for the bird's move going. After being extinct in the wild, the Guam Micronesian kingfishers finally have a rare second chance. We can't stop until the kingfishers are back on Guam where they rightfully belong.

Photo Credit: Heather Paul

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