Argentine parrots: pests or 'spectacular species'?
March 18, 1999
Web posted at: 1:36 p.m. EST (1836 GMT)
VIEDMA, Argentina (CNN) -- Burrowing parrots, which nest in
small tunnels of sandstone cliff faces, are common in parts
of the Rio Negro Valley of Argentina.
But the population has dropped dramatically in the past 20
years, and some of the surviving birds are unable to fly --
the result of genetic deformities after local authorities
sprayed the cliffs with the insecticide DDT in an attempt to
eradicate the birds.
|CNN's Gary Strieker spends time with the burrowing parrots of Argentina
Area farmers are behind the push to eliminate the parrots,
arguing that they severely damage crops.
One farmer said a flock of 20,000 parrots wiped out half his
wheat crop. He called the birds a plague, and said he wants
the government to do more to cut down their numbers.
But conservationists counter that if farmers have their way,
the burrowing parrots could be driven to extinction.
"We have a management problem," said Graham Harris of the
Wildlife Conservation Society. "The farmers want to protect
their crops and, at the same time, we have a spectacular
species that also needs protecting."
Local government officials said they are trying to find ways
to limit the damage caused by the parrots without harming
Meanwhile, researchers are studying parrot behavior in an
effort to come up with new solutions to the problem.
"The idea is to live with the animals, not to live against
them," said Juan Masello of the University of Jena.
Correspondent Gary Strieker contributed to this report.
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Animal Bytes: Parrots
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