Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 30, 2023


Sarah Uhlemann, (206) 327-2344,

Two South American Birds Proposed for U.S. Endangered Species Protections

Both Curassows Threatened by Hunting, Habitat Destruction

WASHINGTON— Responding to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protecting two curassows from Bolivia and Peru under the Endangered Species Act. Both birds are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction.

The southern helmeted curassow is Bolivia’s most threatened bird. The species inhabits only a small area in the eastern Andes Mountains, and as few as 1,500 individuals may currently exist. The closely related Sira curassow inhabits Peru’s cloud forests and was only recently recognized as its own species. Likely fewer than 400 Sira curassow remain. Both species sport a distinctive pale blue casque, or bony protrusion, on their heads.

“These incredibly rare birds deserve the strongest safeguards, so we support the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “U.S. protections will give these pretty birds a fighting chance and highlight the serious threats to their continued existence on this planet.”

Scientists petitioned the Service to list the southern helmeted curassow under the Endangered Species Act in 1991. But the curassow sat on the agency’s candidate list awaiting protections for 30 years, despite the bird’s small population and serious threats to its continued existence.

Today’s proposal responded to a Center legal agreement setting Endangered Species Act deadlines for the southern helmeted curassow and six other foreign bird and butterfly species.

Dozens of other foreign species currently await decisions by the Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service has protected only one foreign species so far in 2023 — a painfully slow rate roughly equaling the Trump administration’s dismal pace on foreign listings.

“We’re happy to see U.S. wildlife officials making some progress in protecting more imperiled, foreign animals under the Endangered Species Act,” said Uhlemann. “But the reality is we’re in the midst of a heartbreaking extinction crisis. We’re on track to lose a million species in the coming decades. Yet the Biden administration is protecting foreign species at a snail’s pace, often only in response to legal action.”

More than 600 foreign species are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Act protects foreign endangered species by banning their import and sale, increasing awareness and providing financial assistance. Partners in Bolivia are working to save the curassow with a captive breeding program, an education and pride campaign and ecotourism.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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