Endangered Guam Kingfisher may be returned back into the wild

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Photo shows a captive male Guam Kingfisher at the Bronx Zoo. There are only about 140 Guam kingfishers alive in the U.S. mainland and Guam breeding facilities.

The US Department of Defense has granted Christy Leppanen, a research assistant professor at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a $100,000 award to research the possibility of reintroducing the Guam kingfisher into the wild.

The Guam kingfisher (Todiramphus cinnamominus) is a species of kingfisher from Guam that has been restricted to a captive breeding program following its extinction in the wild due primarily to predation by the brown tree snake.

It was last seen in the wild in 1988, and the birds are now listed as endangered in the U.S., with only about 140 Guam kingfishers alive in the U.S. mainland and Guam breeding facilities.

According to the University of Tennessee’s Leppanen, captivity is not a long-term solution for the Guam Kingfisher because waiting too long might reduce the likelihood that birds will thrive again in the wild.

Leppanen’s research will evaluate future plans of reintroduction by analyzing the successes and failures of past attempts, paying particular attention to the possible impacts of snake population reductions.

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