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NMI birds ‘trans-located’ to Northern Islands

DUE to the threat of the brown tree snake, the CNMI’s endemic or native bird species are being “trans-located” to the Northern Islands, according to Peter Luscomb, director of the Pacific Bird Conservation.

The group has a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Lands and Natural Resources for the implementation of the Marianas Avifauna Conservation or MAC program.

Pacific Bird Conservation director Peter Luscomb talks about the trans-location of NMI birds to the Northern Islands as Rotary Club of Saipan president Ivan Ilmov and secretary Greg Borja listen. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

Its objective is to preserve, maintain and establish self-sustaining populations of native birds secure from the threat of the brown tree snake which has wiped out 10 of 12 species of birds native to Guam.

Luscomb said in May, their group will assist in collecting birds, particularly the rufous fantail, for trans-location to Guguan in the Northern Islands.

The rufous fantail is a small, active bird which has a distinctive reddish brown rump and continuously fanned tail.

“Our objective is to develop a population in the Northern Islands and secure a population in case brown tree snakes managed to establish themselves on the main islands,” Luscomb said.

Once the threat is gone, he said the CNMI government can always bring back the birds to the main islands.

On Tuesday, Luscomb was the guest speaker of the Rotary Club of Saipan which holds a weekly meeting in Giovanni’s Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.

He told Rotarians that the Division of Fish and Wildlife has identified which native birds are the priority species for long-term survival.

These include the golden white-eye on Saipan, the Tinian monarch, and the Mariana fruit-dove, he said.

The program started in 2004 and since 2008 they have been trans-locating birds to the Northern Islands, he added.

In 2008, Luscomb said they trans-located 100 bridled white-eye to Sarigan, in the Northern Islands.

Four years later, when Fish and Wildlife conducted a survey, it found that the number of bridled white-eye had increased, reaching 9,000, he said.

“These are wild birds and they evolved here. It’s simple to move them to a new but similar habitat,” he said.

In order for the project to be successful, Luscomb said they need it to be in place until 2034, and to have continued access to land and storage facilities.

Under the program, he added, the CNMI government conducts the trans-location while their group brings in specialists to assist in collecting and transferring the birds to the Northern Islands.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94768-nmi-birds-trans-located-to-northern-islands

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