Heath Hen - extinct: globally

Stephanie roman

Heath hen- background

heath hens were found on barrens of coastal New England, from southernmost New Hampshire to northern Virginia in historical times, but possibly south to Florida prehistorically.

Threats or causes of extinctions

Due to intense hunting pressure, the population dropped with a fast rate. Perhaps as the 1840s eath Hens were eliminated from the mainland. There were about 300 left on the island of Martha's Vineyard, off Massachusetts, but by 1890 this number had dropped to 120-200 birds, mainly due to feral cats hunting them and poaching. By the late 1800s, there were about 70 left.However, a destructive fire during the 1916 nesting season, severe winters, inbreeding, an excess number of male individuals and apparently an epidemic of blackhead disease which might have been transmitted by poultry brought the numbers down quickly; after a last recovery to 600 in 1920, the population began its final decline. By 1932 they were all extinct

Preventing the extinction

They were protected by a hunting ban and the 1908 establishment of the "Heath Hen Reserve" helping the population to grow to almost 2000.By the mid-1910s, observing the birds on their lekking grounds had become something of a tourist attraction.Heath Hens were one of the first bird species that U.S. Americans tried to save from extinction. As early as 1791, a bill "for the preservation of heath-hen and other game" was introduced in the New York legislature. Although the effort to save the Heath Hen from extinction was ultimately unsuccessful, it paved the way for conservation of other species.
Big image