A SEVEN-YEAR effort to return thick-billed parrots to the pine forests of Arizona where they once thrived has failed because birds raised in captivity floundered in the wild, quickly becoming prey for hawks.
Some of the birds starved, others succumbed to disease, but most were eaten by predators, often within 48 hours of their release. Researchers have suspended the project, saying they are uncertain whether any of the 88 parrots released in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona from 1986 to 1993 survived.
Reintroducing a dying species to the wild, even in its native habitat, is never easy, conservationists say. In fact, most attempts fail, especially when they involve animals born in captivity. Yet wildlife researchers say that such efforts tend to be more popular than other conservation techniques, like those that rely on legislation and public education.