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A first for the Americas…

The first ever Convention on Migratory Species

The first ever Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) agreement for an American migratory bird species has been announced. The new agreement calls for both Argentina and Chile to coordinate conservation measures that will halt recent declines in the mainland South American population of Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed between Argentina and Chile will promote closer coordination of conservation efforts to save the species, pushing for closer working with local farmers, hunters and reserve managers.

Conservationists at Aves Argentinas (BirdLife in Argentina) have underlined the need for any new measures to be adequately implemented and policed, citing recent evidence that newly-announced hunting legislation is often flouted.

The recent CMS agreement applies to the declining mainland South American population of Ruddy-headed Goose which breeds in Southern Patagonia (Argentina and Chile) and winters in the Buenos Aires province. A recent estimation by Wetlands International put numbers at just 900-1,000 birds.

Factors behind the population decline include introduced predators, loss of habitat and poisoning; yet it is hunting, particularly in the Buenos Aires wintering grounds, that poses the greatest threat. Ruddy-headed Goose are shot both for sport and by farmers mistaking them for widespread birds with similar colouration.In response to these declines and to the CMS agreement, the Argentinian government last month introduced a close season for the hunting of Ruddy-headed Goose (as well as Upland Goose Chloephaga picta and Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala) in the districts west of Buenos Aires Province. This builds on previous legislation making it illegal to hunt Ruddy-headed Goose all year round within the Buenos Aires Province itself, its wintering location.

Although in full agreement that these measures are a positive step forward, conservationists at Aves Argentinas have raised concern over how well these legislations are being followed in the field:

“Unfortunately, recent monitoring has exposed many dead geese, killed by hunters who do not abide by existing law,” said Andrés Bosso, Executive Director at Aves Argentinas, then explaining how tour companies continue to promote geese-hunting trips within Argentina. “Field control is failing and we are fully aware of agencies promoting a catch of 80 geese per day per hunter, despite the current ban.” Aves Argentinas are now working to raise awareness of the ban, urging: “We should all comply with and help enforce these laws, if we are to fulfil the obligations our country recently made under the Convention on Migratory Species.”

4th July 2014