Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) publishes an annual notice of resubmitted petition findings (annual notice) for all foreign species for which listings were previously found to be warranted but precluded.
In this document, we announce that listing the yellow-billed parrot as threatened is warranted, and we are issuing a proposed rule to add that species as threatened under the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
Prior to issuing a final rule on this proposed action, we will take into consideration all comments and any additional information we receive. Such information may lead to a final rule that differs from this proposal. All comments and recommendations, including names and addresses of commenters, will become part of the administrative record.
On January 31, 2008, the Service received a petition dated January 29, 2008, from Friends of Animals, as represented by the Environmental Law Clinic, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, requesting that we list 14 parrot species under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as a petition and included the requisite information required in the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 424.14(a)). On July 14, 2009 (74 FR 33957), we published a 90-day finding in which we determined that the petition presented substantial scientific and commercial information to indicate that listing may be warranted for 12 of the 14 parrot species. In our 90-day finding on this petition, we announced the initiation of a status review to list as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the following 12 parrot species: blue-headed macaw
On October 24, 2009, and December 2, 2009, the Service received a 60-day notice of intent to sue from Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians, for failure to issue 12-month findings on the petition. On March 2, 2010, Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians filed suit against the Service for failure to make timely 12-month findings within the statutory deadline of the Act on the petition to list the 14 species
On July 21, 2010, a settlement agreement was approved by the Court (CV-10-357, D. D.C.), in which the Service agreed to submit to the
In this status review we make a determination whether the petitioned action is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but precluded by other listing actions for one of the remaining species, the yellow-billed parrot. This
We intend that any final actions resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek clarifying information concerning:
(1) Information on taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection and trends (especially breeding and foraging habitats), diet, and population abundance and trends (especially current recruitment data) of this species.
(2) Information on the effects of habitat loss and changing land uses on the distribution and abundance of this species.
(3) Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, including live capture and hunting, domestic and international trade, predation by other animals, and any diseases that are known to affect this species or its principal food sources.
(4) Information on management programs for parrot conservation, including mitigation measures related to conservation programs, and any other private, nongovernmental, or governmental conservation programs that benefit this species.
(5) The potential effects of climate change on this species and its habitat.
Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as full references) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”
At this time, we do not have a public hearing scheduled for this proposed rule. The main purpose of most public hearings is to obtain public testimony or comment. In most cases, it is sufficient to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, described above in the
Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors:
(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(C) Disease or predation;
(D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
In considering whether a species may warrant listing under any of the five factors, we look beyond the species' exposure to a potential threat or aggregation of threats under any of the factors, and evaluate whether the species responds to those potential threats in a way that causes actual impact to the species. The identification of threats that might impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include evidence indicating that the threats are operative and, either singly or in aggregation, affect the status of the species. Threats are significant if they drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of the species, such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened, as those terms are defined in the Act.
The yellow-billed parrot belongs to the family Psittacidae and is one of only two
This species occurs in mid-level (up to 1,200 meters (m) (3,937 feet (ft)), wet limestone and lower montane, mature forests of Jamaica. The late successional forest canopy height ranges from 15-20 m (49-66 ft), with occasional emergence of
In the latter part of the 20th Century, the overall range and population of the yellow-billed parrot decreased (Juniper and Parr 1998 in BLI 2011a, unpaginated). The range of the yellow-billed parrot is estimated to be 5,400 square kilometers (km
Like most parrot species, the yellow-billed parrot is a frugivore, and feeds on catkins, nuts, berries, fruits, blossoms, figs, and seeds (Jamaica Observer 2010, unpaginated; World Parrot Trust, 2009, unpaginated). Parrots, including this species, generally fly considerable distances in search of food (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; Lee 2010, p. 8) and disperse seeds over large areas, contributing to forest regeneration (NEPA 2010b, unpaginated). Because parrots feed primarily on fruits and flowers, they are linked to the fruiting and flowering patterns of trees; fluctuations in abundance and availability of these food sources may change diets, result in movements to areas with greater food availability, and influence local seasonal patterns of bird abundance (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; Lee 2010, p. 7; Tobias and Brightsmith 2007, p. 132; Brightsmith 2006, p. 2; Renton 2002, p. 17; Cowen n.d., pp. 5, 23).
The breeding season begins in March with yellow-billed parrots looking for and defending nest sites and ends in late July, the end of the fledgling period (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; Koenig 2001, p. 208). Mated pairs of yellow-billed parrots appear to be monogamous (Koenig 1998, unpaginated). Nesting areas, including the distance from the nest tree where pairs perch and engage in territorial vocalizations, the location
The yellow-billed parrot is currently classified as “vulnerable,” which means this species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature due to the small, fragmented and declining range of this species, a decline in extent, area, and quality of suitable habitat due to logging and mining, and trapping (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; Snyder
Historically, 97 percent of Jamaica was a closed-forest ecosystem. After centuries of improper land use and a high rate of deforestation, the island has lost much of its original forest (Berglund and Johansson 2004, pp. 2, 5; Evelyn and Camirand 2003, p. 354; Koenig 2001, p. 206; Koenig 1999, p. 9). Some of the most important parrot habitat was protected from human activities by its inaccessibility, but today, even these areas are being encroached upon and degraded. Natural forests are being replaced with pine plantations and other fast-growing species (Wiley 1991, p. 201). Conversion of forest land to agriculture and pasture has accounted for a majority of deforested land and has resulted in the removal of valuable timber species as a byproduct, with natural regrowth removed as soon as it approaches marketable size (Eyre 1987, p. 342).
Today, Jamaica's forested area is estimated at 337,000 hectares (ha) (832,745 acres (ac)), or 31 percent (FAO 2011, p. 116). Of this remaining forested area, only 8 percent is classified as minimally disturbed or closed broadleaf forest, and these only occur on the steepest or most remote, inaccessible parts of the island (WWF 2001, unpaginated; Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 262; Koenig 1991, p. 9). This loss in forested habitat has resulted in a small and fragmented range for the yellow-billed parrot; a decline in the extent, area, and quality of suitable habitat; and a decline in the yellow-billed parrot population (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; World Parrot Trust 2009, unpaginated; Koenig 1999, p. 9). The greatest long-term threats to Jamaica's remaining population of yellow-billed parrot is deforestation via logging, agriculture, mining, road construction, and encroachment of nonnative species (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; NEPA 2010b, unpaginated; Levy and Koenig 2009, pp. 263-264; World Parrot Trust 2009, unpaginated; JEAN 2007, p. 4; John and Newman 2006, pp. 7, 15; Tole 2006, p. 799; Snyder
Cockpit Country is characterized by yellow and white limestone karst topography with rounded peaks and steep-sided, bowl-shaped depressions, known as cockpits (John and Newman 2006, p. 3; Tole 2006, p. 789). Historically, the edge forests of Cockpit Country experienced extensive clear-cutting for timber, but the rugged terrain and inaccessibility of Cockpit Country have prevented extensive resource exploitation in its interior forests (Koenig 2001, pp. 206-207; Wiley 1991, p. 201). This area has retained nearly all of its primary forest and is an important remaining tract of extensive primary forest in Jamaica; 81 percent of the region is under forest (John and Newman 2006, p. 3; Tole 2006, pp. 790, 795, 798). However, gaps indicate the beginning of a decline in contiguity and connectivity and the periphery and surrounding plains are already badly degraded (Tole 2006, pp. 790, 797; Koenig 2001, pp. 201-207). The greatest threat to the wet limestone forest habitat of Cockpit Country is deforestation due to bauxite mining. Additional threats include deforestation from road construction, conversion of forests for agriculture, poor agricultural practices, and logging, (BLI 2011b, unpaginated; Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 267; JEAN 2007, p. 4; BLI 2006, unpaginated; John and Newman 2006, p. 15; Wiley 1991, p. 201; Windsor Research Centre n.d., unpaginated).
The Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains are located on the eastern side of Jamaica and are separated by the Rio Grande. Almost all of the two ranges were designated forest reserves and contain important remaining tracts of closed-canopy, broadleaf forest (TNC 2008b, unpaginated). In 1989, 78,200 ha (193,236 ac) were designated as the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BLI 2011d, unpaginated; BLI 2011e, unpaginated; Dunkley and Barrett 2001, p. 1). The most significant threat to the Blue and John Crow Mountains is deforestation due to subsistence farming, commercial farming, and illegal logging and encroachment of invasive species (BLI 2011e, unpaginated; IUCN 2011, unpaginated; Chai
Mount Diablo is located in the center of Jamaica and makes up part of the “spinal forest,” the forests along the main mountain ridges that extend along the center of the island. Conversion of forest for agriculture land, forestry plantations, expanding settlements, and bauxite mining has left the spinal forest severely fragmented (BLI 2011c, unpaginated).
In the Cockpit Country Conservation Action Plan, threats to the limestone forests from conversion of forest, incompatible agriculture practices, and timber extraction are ranked high (John and Newman 2006, p. 15). The immediate vicinity of Cockpit Country has a population of around 10,000 people who exploit the area (Day 2004, p. 34). Illegal logging and farming have extended into the forest reserve within Cockpit Country (Day 2004, p. 34; Chenoweth
One of the greatest causes of deforestation and fragmentation in Cockpit Country is the illegal removal of wood for yam crops and yam sticks (JEAN 2007, p. 4; Tole 2006, p. 790; Chenoweth
Adjacent to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park are isolated communities that rely on the park's resources for various economic activities; with almost unchecked access to the park, encroachment of these communities across the park boundary is cause for concern (IUCN 2011, unpaginated; Dunkley and Barrett 2001, pp. 2-3). Much of the area has been altered from its natural state and is used for forestry, coffee production, or subsistence farming (BLI 2011d, unpaginated). The adjacent communities have a tradition of small farming and, despite the steep slopes, hillsides are cleared and used by small subsistence farmers for carrots, peas, bananas, plantains, coconuts, pineapples, apples, cabbages, and tomatoes; coffee is also grown by small and large farmers for the well-known brand Blue Mountain Coffee (Dunkley and Barrett 2001, pp. 1, 3). Farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to clear forests for agricultural land; however, because of poor agricultural practices, the soil quality begins to deteriorate after one or two seasons, and farmers abandon their plots and clear additional land for new crops (Chai
The human population surrounding Mount Diablo is steadily growing. Native vegetation is removed for housing, crop cultivation, and lumber. In this area, farming is the main livelihood after bauxite mining. Slash-and-burn practices are used on hillsides to clear land for cash crops, such as banana, plantain, yams, cabbage, okra, peppers, and tomatoes. Various tree species are cut for lumber and add to the deforestation and poor condition of the soils (Global Environmental Facility, Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) 2006, unpaginated). Native forests are also removed for forestry plantations, including Pine
Bauxite is the raw material used to make aluminum and is Jamaica's principle export, accounting for over half of Jamaica's annual exports. Bauxite deposits occur in pockets of limestone and can be found under 25 percent of the island's surface (BLI 2006, unpaginated). It is removed through open pit mining (soil is removed, stored, and then replaced following completion of the mine) and is considered the most significant cause of deforestation in Jamaica (Berglund and Johansson 2004, p. 2). Bauxite mining is driving habitat destruction across the center of the island, including Mount Diablo, and has the potential to permanently destroy forests, including the wet limestone habitat found in Cockpit Country, resulting in irreversible effects on the yellow-billed parrot (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 267; BLI 2006, unpaginated; John and Newman 2006, p. 7; Berglund and Johansson 2004, p. 6; Wiley 1991, p. 201; Windsor Research Centre n.d., unpaginated).
Within the past 50 years, bauxite mining has severely fragmented the spinal forests of Jamaica (BLI 2011c, unpaginated). In the past 40 years, Mount Diablo has been subjected to bauxite mining, which has destroyed much of the area beyond repair and is presumed to have contributed to the decline of populations of forest-dependent species, such as the yellow-billed parrot (BLI 2008, unpaginated; Koenig 2008, p. 145; Varty 2007, pp. 34, 93). In 2009, several bauxite/alumina mining companies closed their refineries due to a drop in demand; however, in July 2010 an alumina plant in Ewarton, a town located at the foot of Mount Diablo, reopened due to a return in demand, and two other plants are expected to reopen as well (RJR News 2010, unpaginated; Jamaica Observer 2010, unpaginated). One of these plants was expected to reopen in July 2011 (The Gleaner 2011, unpaginated). Where mining has occurred, it has resulted in severe impacts to the environment. For example, mining sites within Mount Diablo that were completed 10-15 years ago typically have only herbaceous groundcover, including nonnative ferns, and no regeneration of native woody tree species (BLI 2011c, unpaginated).
Bauxite mining is currently the most significant threat to Cockpit Country. It is ranked high in threats to the limestone forests in Cockpit Country (John and Newman 2006, p. 15). Bauxite deposits can be found throughout 70 percent of Cockpit Country and mining companies have already drilled for bauxite samples (BLI 2006, unpaginated; John and Newman 2006, p. 7; Walker 2006, unpaginated; Windsor Research Centre, n.d., unpaginated). In 2006, ALCOA Minerals of Jamaica and Clarendon Alumina Production were granted a renewal on two bauxite prospecting licenses, which encompassed more than 60 percent of the Cockpit Country Conservation Area and more than 42,000 ha (103,784 ac) of near-contiguous primary forest. After public outcry these licenses were suspended. The Jamaican Government has stated that it does not intend to allow mining in the Cockpit Country; however, the area remains open to future prospecting and mining interests are granted over other land uses, such as timber, agriculture, and conservation (Koenig 2008, pp. 135-137; TNC 2008a, unpaginated; JEAN 2007, p. 4; Walker 2006, unpaginated).
Few lands are excluded from mining or prospecting under the Mining Act, including 22,000 ha (54,363 ac) of Cockpit Country designated as forest reserves, which could be subject to prospecting or mining if a license or lease is obtained (JEAN 2007, p. 6). Additionally, in some, if not all, mining agreements, the Jamaican Government provides mining companies with entitlements to specific amounts of bauxite and guarantees them additional land for mining if the original land does not contain sufficient levels, further contributing to deforestation (JEAN 2007, p. 8). Although bauxite extraction is not currently occurring in Cockpit Country, mining remains a significant impending threat to the area. The amount of deposits found throughout the area, and the facts that the area remains open to future prospecting and bauxite is Jamaica's principle export, leaves open the possibility that mining may occur in the future (JEAN 2007, p. 4; Windsor Research Centre n.d., unpaginated).
If mining were to occur in Cockpit Country, the impacts to the wet limestone forest habitat and wildlife
Bauxite mining has been shown to significantly impact native species and habitat. The forests of Mount Diablo have already suffered significant damage from bauxite mining, leading to the conclusion that mining cannot be allowed in Cockpit Country or it would destroy the area beyond repair (Varty 2007, p. 93). Because of the potential damage to the nesting environment, bauxite mining could drive the yellow-billed parrot population to the level of barely surviving (Koenig 2008, p. 147).
Access roads associated with bauxite mining is another significant cause of deforestation and a serious threat to the forest cover of Jamaica. Once established, either in the prospecting or mining phase, loggers use mining roads to gain access to additional forests and illegally remove trees in and around the mining area (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; JEAN 2007, pp. 4-5; Berglund and Johansson 2004, p. 6). If mining were to occur in Cockpit Country, roads established to access the cockpit bottoms would fragment the habitat, isolate forested hillsides, and increase the amount of edge habitat (Koenig 2008, pp. 141, 144). Improved human access via mining roads and the subsequent alteration in habitat and predator-prey dynamics (See Factor C) are predicted to hasten the decline of the yellow-billed parrot.
In addition to mining access roads, road construction and extensive trail systems have the potential to contribute to further deforestation or alter environmental conditions. Roads provide access to previously undisturbed forests. In Cockpit Country, forest clearance has occurred along the edge where roads have provided easy access (JEAN 2007, p. 4). Interior forests were once inaccessible; however, continued road construction into these areas will lead to increased deforestation and logging (WWF 2001, unpaginated). Construction of Highway 2000 along the southern boundary of Cockpit Country may threaten the area through subsequent logging and the need for limestone fill, which could be quarried from Cockpit Country (Day 2004, p. 35; Windsor Research Centre no date, unpaginated). Roads and trails are ranked high in threats to the limestone forest of Cockpit Country (John and Newman 2006, p. 15). Additionally, roads and trails create openings in the forest, exposing it to new environmental conditions that alter the high-humidity conditions in which species of wet limestone habitat are adapted and facilitate the spread of invasive species (JEAN 2007, p. 4; Windsor Research Centre no date, unpaginated).
Forest clearance, whether through mining, road/trail development, logging, or agriculture, not only reduces the size of continuous forests and opens them up to further deforestation, it also alters the natural environment and facilitates the spread of harmful nonnative plants and animals (JEAN 2007, p. 4; Windsor Research Centre n.d., unpaginated). Nonnative invasive plant species have the ability to outcompete and dominate native plant communities and are ranked high in threats to the limestone forests of Cockpit Country (John and Newman, 2006, p. 15). The many years of land clearance experienced by the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park has led to the expansion of invasive species, including wild coffee
Deforestation through mining, road construction, logging, and agriculture contributes to the loss of Jamaica's remaining primary forest, habitat for the yellow-billed parrot, and essential resources for the life functions of the yellow-billed parrot. The removal of trees reduces food sources, shelter from inclement weather, and most importantly, nesting sites, which are reported to be limited (NEPA 2010b, unpaginated; Tole 2006, pp. 790-791; Koenig 2001, p. 206; Koenig 1999, p. 10; Wiley 1991, p. 190). The removal of saplings for yam sticks eliminates the source of regeneration for mature trees in which nesting cavities will form. Deforestation also changes the quality of remaining resources (Koenig 2001, p. 206; Koenig 1999, p. 10) and prevents the regeneration of native forests. The agricultural practices of farmers leave the land unfertile and unstable, especially on hillsides. Cash crops do not have a sufficient root system to hold soil, and the loss of the forest canopy leaves the soil vulnerable to impacts from rainfall, resulting in massive soil erosion (GEF SGP 2006, unpaginated). This decrease in the quality of the land prevents native forests from regenerating (Dunkley and Barrett 2001, p. 2; WWF 2001, unpaginated). Furthermore, deforestation also allows human disturbance to extend further into the interior of the forest, contributing to further deforestation, altering the habitat, and affecting the predator/prey balance (See Factor C) (Tole 2006, pp. 790-791; Koenig 1999, pp. 11-12). Threats to the limestone forest of Cockpit Country overall are considered very high (John and Newman 2006, p. 15).
Deforestation can also change the species composition and structure of a forest, rendering it unsuitable for the yellow-billed parrot. Openings in the forest expose the forest edge to new environmental conditions, such as increased sunlight and airflow, altering
Conservation International, South Trelawny Environmental Agency, the Windsor Research Centre, and Jamaica's Forestry Department are working together to produce a long-term protection strategy for Cockpit Country. Part of the strategy involves the use of plastic yam sticks, incentive programs to encourage farmers to set aside 40 ha (99 ac) of forest as a reserve, training members of the community as enforcement officers, and restoring abandoned land with native species (Tole 2006, p. 800). We do not know the status of this program or what goals have been achieved.
Within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, there are programs aimed at controlling nonnative species. Parks in Peril and the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust established a nursery as a forest restoration project; timber and fruit trees are distributed to adjacent communities for planting (TNC 2008b, unpaginated). The success of this program is unknown.
The yellow-billed parrot is restricted to the island of Jamaica. Past deforestation has resulted in a small and fragmented range on the island, a decline in the extent and quality of suitable habitat, and a declining yellow-billed parrot population. Deforestation remains a significant threat to Jamaica's forests. Mining, road and trail construction, logging, agriculture, and encroachment of nonnative species continue to threaten the remaining primary forests where this species exists. Removal of these forests without adequate regeneration permanently eliminates trees vital for foraging and nesting activities. Without these essential resources, the population of the yellow-billed parrot will likely continue to decline. Therefore, based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range is a threat to the yellow-billed parrot throughout its range now and in the foreseeable future.
Harvesting of parrot chicks for pets has seriously affected most of the parrot species in the West Indies (Wiley 1991, p. 191). In Jamaica, illegal poaching for the pet trade and farmers who shoot them to protect their crops have contributed to the decline of the yellow-billed parrot (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; Sylvester 2011, unpaginated; Jamaica Observer 2010, unpaginated; Koenig 2008, p. 145; JEAN 2007, p. 4; Snyder
In 1981, the yellow-billed parrot was listed in Appendix II of CITES. CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that the international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not threaten species' survival in the wild. There are currently 175 CITES Parties (member countries or signatories to the Convention). Under this treaty, CITES Parties regulate the import, export, and reexport of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plants and animal species (also see Factor D). Trade must be authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are provided by the designated CITES Scientific and Management Authorities of each CITES Party (CITES 2010a, unpaginated).
For species listed in Appendix II of CITES, commercial trade is allowed. However, CITES requires that before an export of Appendix-II specimens can occur, a determination must be made that the specimens were legally obtained (in accordance with national laws) and that the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, and a CITES export document must be issued by the designated CITES Management Authority of the country of export and must accompany the export of the specimens.
According to worldwide trade data obtained from UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, from 1981, when the species was listed in CITES, through 2009, 210 yellow-billed parrot specimens were reported in international trade, including 208 live birds, 1 scientific specimen, and 1 body. In analyzing these reported data, several records appear to be overcounts due to slight differences in the manner in which the importing and exporting countries reported their trade, and it is likely that the actual number of specimens of yellow-billed parrots reported to UNEP-WCMC in international trade from 1981 through 2009 was 195; including 193 live birds, 1 scientific specimen, and 1 body. Of these specimens, 11 (5.6 percent) were reportedly exported from Jamaica (UNEP-WCMC 2011, unpaginated). With the information given in the UNEP-WCMC database, from 1981 through 2009 only 1 wild specimen of yellow-billed parrot was reported in trade, and this was a nonliving body traded for scientific purposes. One live specimen with the source recorded as unknown was also reported in trade. All other specimens reported in trade were captive-bred or captive-born specimens.
Because the majority of the specimens of this species reported in international trade (99 percent) are captive-bred or captive-born, and the one wild specimen reported in trade was a scientific specimen traded for scientific purposes, we believe that international trade controlled via valid CITES permits is not a threat to the species.
Most yellow-billed parrot nestlings are poached for the local market and are not highly desirable in the international pet trade (Koenig 2001, p. 206). They are popular on Jamaica as pets because of their colorful plumage and ability to mimic human sounds; the yellow-billed parrot appears to be in higher demand than black-billed parrot because of their brighter coloration (Snyder
Poaching for use as a cage-bird places a strong pressure on the population of yellow-billed parrots and is the primary cause of nest failures and reduces the number of parrots in the wild
As described under Factor A, parrot habitat is threatened by the conversion of forests to agriculture. As agriculture spreads into parrot habitat, farmers and birds came into conflict over crops (Wiley 1991, p. 191). Some persecution for crop and garden damage, especially citrus, has been reported for the yellow-billed parrot (Snyder
Since the CITES Appendix-II listing, legal international commercial trade has been very limited. However, the yellow-billed parrot appears to be popular in Jamaica's domestic market and has contributed to the decline of the species. In addition to removing individuals from the wild population, poachers cut trees to trap nestlings, removing limited essential nesting cavities and reducing the availability of nesting cavities for future generations. Ongoing deforestation in Jamaica may increase the likelihood of birds and farmers coming into conflict and yellow-billed parrots being killed to protect crops. Combined with the ongoing deforestation in Jamaica, poaching and further loss of nesting trees is a significant threat to the survival of this species. Therefore, we find that overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is a threat to the yellow-billed parrot throughout its range now and in the foreseeable future.
Nonnative psittacines imported for the pet trade pose a high threat to the yellow-billed parrot through the introduction of disease, the potential for hybridization, and competitive exclusion of nesting activities (See also Factor E) (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 264; Wiley 1991, p. 191). However, in Cockpit Country, threats from introduced diseases are ranked low (John and Newman 2006, p. 15). A temporary ban on importation of nonnative parrot species was put in place based on concerns for the introduction of highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 264).
Avian influenza is an infection caused by flu viruses, which occur in birds worldwide, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. Most strains of the avian influenza virus have low pathogenicity and cause few clinical signs in infected birds, but it is highly contagious among birds (CDC 2010, 2005, unpaginated). Pathogenicity is the ability of a pathogen to produce an infectious disease in an organism. However, strains can mutate into highly pathogenic forms, which is what happened in 1997, when the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (called H5N1) first appeared in Hong Kong (USDA
Jamaica's ban on importation of nonnative psittacines is still in effect and efforts have been made to make the ban permanent (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 264). Additionally, importation of caged birds from Trinidad and Tobago or any country of South America is prohibited under the Animal Disease and Importation Act (The Animal Diseases (Importation) Control Regulations 1948, p. 76). Most of the information regarding avian influenza is on domesticated bird species, especially poultry. We do not have information on the extent that introduced parrot species and the spread of avian influenza has impacted the yellow-billed parrot.
The Jamaican boa, or yellow boa
Although imported nonnative psittacines were identified as a high threat to the yellow-billed parrot, in part, due to concerns for the introduction of highly pathogenic
There is direct evidence of boas preying on yellow-billed parrot nestlings. Edge habitat provides an optimal habitat for the yellow boa. As primary forests diminish and edge habitat increases, predation by boas on parrots may also increase. We do not have any information on actual predation by red-tailed hawks on the yellow-billed parrot. However, if mining occurs in Cockpit Country, habitat may be altered to conditions suitable for the hawk and increase the risk of predation. Based on the direct evidence of predation by boas and the continuing threat of deforestation and conversion of primary forests to edge habitat, and the associated increased risk of predation, we find that predation is a threat to the yellow-billed parrot throughout its range now and in the foreseeable future.
The yellow-billed parrot is listed under the Second Schedule of Jamaica's Endangered Species (Protection, Conservation and Regulation of Trade) Act (JESA). The Second Schedule includes those species that could become extinct or which have to be effectively controlled (JESA 2000, pp. 72, 80). It is illegal to buy and/or sell Jamaican parrots locally or trade them internationally (NEPA 2010b, unpaginated; JESA 2000, p. 14; Snyder
Parrots have full protection under section six of the Jamaican Wildlife Protection Act (1974) (WPA) (Wiley 1991, p. 202). The WPA was originally passed in 1945 to regulate sport hunting and fishing, but since that time has undergone changes to address protection of animals. It does not, however, address habitat protection or the conservation of flora (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 263). Possession is regulated by the WPA (Koenig 1999, p. 10). Under this Act it is illegal for any person to hunt or possess a protected bird, including the yellow-billed parrot, take, or have in possession the nest or egg of any protected bird (WPA 1945, pp. 4-5). Under section 20 of the legislation, anyone found in possession of a live Jamaican parrot or any of its parts can face a maximum fine of 100,000 Jamaican dollars (1,200 U.S. dollars) or 12 months in prison (WPA 1945, p. 11). However, fines levied are often much less. For example, one offender was charged a fine of only 5,000 Jamaican dollars (55 U.S. dollars) (Sylvester 2011, unpaginated).
As described under Factor B, the poaching of adult and nestling yellow-billed parrots for the local pet bird trade has contributed to the decline of the species and remains a threat; therefore, the JESA and WPA do not appear to adequately protect this species.
Forestry Acts of 1937 and 1973 provide certain protections to some habitat (e.g., Cockpit Country Forestry Reserve) and other areas have been established as sanctuaries (Snyder
Under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, an environmental permit is required for the first-time introduction of species of flora and fauna and genetic material (Williams-Raynor 2010, unpaginated). Mining is also regulated by this Act. Before any physical development or construction can take place, a permit must be obtained from the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA). If the activity is likely to be harmful to public health or natural resources, NRCA can refuse a permit or order the immediate cessation of the activity or even closure of the plant (Berglund and Johansson 2004, p. 8). This Act also addresses habitat protection by providing a framework for a system of protected areas, such as the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 263). We do not have information to completely analyze the adequacy of this regulation; however, one of the problems with conservation in Jamaica is incomplete and improper environmental impact assessments which are required to obtain an environmental permit (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 263). Therefore, it appears that this regulation may not be adequate to ameliorate threats to the forest resources of Jamaica.
Under the Mining Act (1947), bauxite deposits are owned by the government, not by the owner of the land. The government may issue licenses to anyone to explore the land or mining leases to exploit it; therefore, in order to prospect and search for minerals, companies do not need to purchase the land. The Act gives the lessee or the license holder the right to enter government land or privately owned land to search for minerals or to mine minerals. Compensation is payable to the landowner for damages to land and property. The Act also stipulates that the mining companies must restore every mined area of land to the level of productivity that existed prior to the mining. Restoration must take place within 6 months following the end of mining activity. Failure to do so results in a penalty of 4,500 U.S. dollars per
An import permit is also required from the Veterinary Services Division under the Animal Disease and Importation Act (Williams-Raynor 2010, unpaginated). Additionally, no caged bird shall be imported into Jamaica from Trinidad and Tobago or any country of South America. Based on an increase in illegal importation of animals into Jamaica (See Factor E), it appears that this law may not adequately protect the yellow-billed parrots from potential disease, hybridization, or competition with non-native species.
There are at least 34 pieces of Jamaican legislation that refer to the environment. However, there are problems with conservation in Jamaica that stem from poor communication between various government institutions, regulations insufficient at recognizing the value of biodiversity, insufficient funding, poor enforcement, and incomplete and improper environmental impact assessments (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 263). In fact, due to the limitations of the Forestry Department and NRCA, management of the first national park was delegated to an NGO, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) (Levy and Koenig 2009, p. 263). The Forestry Department currently manages the entire Cockpit Country region as a forest reserve; however, they lack adequate technical and enforcement staff to respond to the increasing deforestation problem (Tole 2006, p. 799).
Policies have led to a greater awareness of the legal status of parrots; however, they continue to be illegally harvested for local and, perhaps, some international trade (Snyder
Habitat in the Blue and John Crow Mountains was declared a national park in 1989 and is managed by the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) (BLI 2011d, unpaginated; BLI 2011e, unpaginated; Dunkley and Barrett 2001, p. 1; Snyder
Enforcement and management of the national park are weak. Laws that prohibit fores