GUAM MEETING FOCUSES ON SAVING MICRONESIAN BIRDS

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APIA, Samoa (October 29, 2000 - SPREP/PINA Nius Online)---Help is on the way for several Micronesian birds facing extinction, when bird conservation experts meet in Guam this week to try and contain the threat.

Seven species, including the endemic Micronesian kingfisher (Halycon c.cinnamomina) and the Mariana Crow (Corvus kuaryi), are now extinct in the wild. Their numbers continue to dwindle, as a result of attacks from brown tree snakes, other predators and habitat modification.

At least half a dozen other Micronesian species are endangered, or under threat, according to a BirdLife 2000-Threatened Birds of the World report, that will be discussed at the meeting.

Program Officer for Bird Conservation, Dr. Greg Sherley, of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), says tough decisions on which threatened birds will receive help have to be made because of restricted resources currently available.

"From the point of view of bird conservationists, we have only a few cards left to play. If the proposals we come up with here are going to work, we need cooperation from everyone in the community," he said.

Already the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and BirdLife International have pitched in to help bring in the required expertise to the five-day meeting.

"I honestly believe that if we are too blasé about this issue, future generations may only see these birds in bird sanctuaries or from outside glass cases in a museum," he said.

Dr. Sherley is confident the meeting of government officials, non-government organizations and bird conservationists will be able to agree on priorities to start tackling the fall of bird numbers in the Pacific.

Along with the host, the Guam Aquatic and Wild Life Resources Agriculture Department, representatives from several Micronesian countries, including the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, will attend the meeting.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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