Protect the Scarlet Macaw

Target: Vanessa Kauffman, Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Do not decrease protections for the scarlet macaw under the Endangered Species Act.

The scarlet macaw may soon lose valuable protections if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service goes through with its proposed revisions to the endangered bird’s conservation status. The large, colorful parrot is native to South America, where its numbers have vastly decreased due to habitat loss, deforestation, and the parrot trade. The destruction of the species’ habitat has led to a fragmentation of the population, with scarlet macaws living in tiny groups scattered throughout their former range. The pet trade is even worse of a threat, as scarlet macaws are frequently captured from the wild to be caged and sold.

Despite these very real threats, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to change the scarlet macaw’s conservation status from “endangered” to “threatened.” This change would allow breeders greater freedom in selling their birds, as well as permit owners of pet birds to import and export their birds without a permit. In reality, this loosening of regulations would only make it easier for the scarlet macaw to be exploited through illegal trade that does not meet the requirements of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. The Defenders of Wildlife, an animal conservation organization, has already spoken out about illegal parrot trafficking in Mexico, where the birds are facing extinction and are kept in horrible conditions after being captured. These threats will only increase if the scarlet macaw’s protections are lessened.

There is one positive aspect to the proposed revision. Previously, only two subspecies of scarlet macaw received protection under the Endangered Species Act, and the proposed change would expand that protection to all known wild populations. However, this protection will not be enough if the birds are made more vulnerable to the pet trade. Sign this petition to urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to retain the scarlet macaw’s “endangered” status, and to apply that status to all wild populations.


Dear Ms. Kauffman,

The scarlet macaw is highly threatened by deforestation, habitat destruction, and the parrot trade. Due to habitat destruction, the population is largely fragmented, living in tiny groups scattered throughout its range and facing local extinction. Due to the parrot’s popularity in the pet trade, many scarlet macaws are captured from the wild to be caged and sold, resulting in further population decline.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to revise the scarlet macaw’s conservation status will change the species’ listing from “endangered” to “threatened,” and this downgrading would result in a devastating loss of protections for this threatened species. While the proposal to include all known wild populations under the Endangered Species Act rather than only the two subspecies previously listed is important progress, it will make little difference if other protections are removed.

The scarlet macaw must not be made even more vulnerable to the pet trade; ownership, importation, and exportation must remain heavily regulated to keep the species from being exploited. I am urging you to retain the scarlet macaw’s endangered status. Please take action to ensure that all populations of this endangered species receive maximum protection in order to keep the scarlet macaw from dying out.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Scott Kinmartin

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