FARMINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments on listing the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The bird, which lives throughout New Mexico, has been spotted near the San Juan River.

This is the federal agency's second comment period on the cuckoo. The comment period closes April 25.

The first comment period began in October during the federal government shutdown last year, and public notification of the proposal was delayed. When that comment period closed Dec. 2, 2013, the agency received requests from the public to extend the comment period, according to a press release from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The cuckoo is associated with riparian areas, where it breeds, said Lori Robertson, a biologist with the New Mexico branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Robertson said in New Mexico the bird is most commonly found near the Rio Grande River, but it has also been seen near the San Juan River.

The federal agency will use comments gathered during the comment period to help determine whether or not to list the bird as threatened.

The invasion of tamarisk, a small tree with a feathery appearance, into riparian areas and the growing threat of wildfires are among the factors affecting the cuckoo's habitat, according to the press release.

Another threat to the cuckoo is the increased use of pesticides, which kill the bugs the bird feeds on, according to the press release.


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Before the bird's status is changed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish a proposed rule to designate critical habitat in the Federal Register, according to the press release. Following the publication, the federal agency will have another comment period so the public can send in comments and information.

The threatened status is the lowest rung on the Endangered Species Act, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional spokesman Tom Buckley.

"There's a good chance that it wouldn't affect anybody," he said.

Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104.
Comments can also be mailed to:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.