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US setting aside area in several Western states to protect rare yellow-billed cuckoo

US setting aside area in several Western states to protect rare yellow-billed cuckoo
© Stephen Ramirez/WikiCommons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday a designation of protected land across seven states meant to conserve populations of the yellow-billed cuckoo, a songbird that nests in the southwestern U.S. as it migrates between South America and the U.S.

In a news release, Fish and Wildlife said that 298,845 acres across portions of Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah would be listed as critical habitat areas where the bird is protected.

“This effort exemplifies the importance of public involvement in the recovery process for listed species,” said Michael Fris, a field supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, in the statement.

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“This designation identifies important feeding and breeding grounds for the cuckoo to support the species’ recovery while also balancing the need in finding solutions that support current and future land-use plans," Fris continued.

Fish and Wildlife says that the yellow-billed cuckoo's habitat is threatened by factors including the clearing of land for agriculture, as well as dams, which disrupt the rivers and other small waterways along which the birds live and raise young.

Nearly 200,000 acres of potential protected habitat were excluded from the designation, Fish and Wildlife's statement added, due to information from the public that "provided the scientific evidence needed to remove or exclude the lands based on existing conservation activities, lack of suitable habitat, or interference with the operation and maintenance of critical infrastructure."