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Conservation Groups File Petition to Protect Honduran Emerald Hummingbird Under Endangered Species Act

Washington, D.C. – October 28, 2008: International and national conservation organizations including The Hummingbird Society, The Hummingbird Conservancy, and EcoLogic Development Fund have partnered with international law firm Crowell & Moring LLP to petition the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) for the protection of the Honduran Emerald, a rare and remarkable hummingbird found only in the Republic of Honduras. The petition aims to list the Emerald under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which would greatly enhance the interest of public and private entities in pursuing conservation efforts.

The Emerald has been the subject of an Explorer’s Club scientific research and photographic expedition led by Robert E. Hyman and is considered the most endangered bird in Central America, as well as one of the most endangered hummingbirds in the world. The bird is faced with many threats to its environment, including plans to build a highway through a section of its unique habitat, and unregulated, rapid destruction of the land where it resides. The current population of the bird, known as the Emerald for its glittering blue-green throat and upper chest, is estimated to be between 500 and 2,000 breeding pairs.

Ricardo Steiner, who is an advisor to the petitioning organization Fundación Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, which has been working with the World Bank and American Bird Conservancy to mitigate the impact of planned development in the area in Honduras, said, “The ESA protection will position us to partner with the various interests in the area to find the most effective approach to conservation in the midst of economic development. We need to find the right balance, and to do that we need to give the hummingbird a voice.”

“Listing under the ESA would bring greater attention to the plight of the Emerald, facilitating efforts to raise funds for habitat acquisition and securing greater interest in and funding for research on the Emerald necessary for maximizing conservation efforts,” said Deborah Atwood, principal in Crowell & Moring’s Public Policy Group. “We are optimistic that Interior Secretary Kempthorne will act on this important petition.”

An analysis conducted by conservation organization BirdLife International estimates that nearly ten percent of the world’s hummingbird species are on the verge of extinction. In 2004, the Honduran government passed an initiative declaring the Emerald’s home in the Aguán Valley to become a protected area, and an ESA listing will advance those efforts.

The full list of petitioners includes:

  • Louisiana State University ornithologist David L. Anderson, MS, BS, a foremost authority on the Honduran Emerald;
  • The Hummingbird Society, a nonprofit organization aimed at teaching about hummingbirds and preventing their extinction;
  • Ecologic Development Fund, a nonprofit organization that advances conservation in rural areas of Latin America by promoting sustainable livelihoods and natural resource management;
  • Clos LaChance, a family-owned California winery with a history of supporting hummingbird conservation efforts;
  • The Hummingbird Conservancy, a non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve hummingbirds and their habitat in the Neotropics;
  • Honduras-based conservation group Fundación Parque Nacional Pico Bonito seeking to protect the Pico Bonito National Park;
  • Honduran Environmental Network for Sustainable Development, a non-profit group of NGOs involved in the co-management of protected areas on the North Coast and Bay Island of Honduras; and
  • The international law firm of Crowell & Moring, whose nationally-recognized Environment & Natural Resources Group and Public Policy Group serve both corporate and nonprofit clients.

To assist in raising support for the protection of the Honduran Emerald, Clos LaChance Winery has partnered with The Hummingbird Society to create the Honduran Emerald Meritage, a Bordeaux-like wine featuring a hummingbird on the label. A portion of the proceeds will be used to assist in the purchase of lands critical to the Emerald’s survival. For more information, visit

Crowell & Moring’s team of Public Policy Group and Environment & Natural Resources Group consultants and attorneys advised on the petition, including principal Deborah Atwood, specialist Patrick Frey, and partner Steven P. Quarles. For a copy of the petition, please click on the PDF icon below.

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with more than 450 lawyers practicing in litigation, environment & natural resources, antitrust, government contracts, health care, corporate, intellectual property and a variety of other practice areas. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm also has offices in New York, London, Brussels, Los Angeles, and Irvine, CA. Visit Crowell & Moring online at

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Phill McGowan
Director of PR, Media and Communication
+1 202.508.8835

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