Aga Recovery Project
For more than 2 million years, the native forests on the islands of Guam and Rota were once home to several thousand crows of a species found nowhere else on Earth. But over the last 60 years, the Mariana crow - called the Aga in the Chamorro language - has completely disappeared from the island of Guam and rapidly declined on neighboring Rota. Today there are only about 150 Aga left on the planet.

“Aga are a critical strand in the ecological and cultural web that make up the forests of Guam and Rota. Without drastic measures, we could lose this part of our natural and cultural heritage forever,” said Anthony Benavente, secretary of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - Department of Lands and Natural Resources (CNMI-DLNR).

To ensure the survival of the species, scientists from the University of Washington and San Diego Zoo Global are partnering with the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Department of Lands and Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a bold new project that they hope will stabilize the population of Aga on Rota.

In 2016, researchers began collecting eggs from wild Aga nests to be reared in captivity. The captive-reared birds would be raised past the critical period of highest mortality and then released. This project has the potential to greatly increase reproductive output because the wild Aga pairs normally lay another set of eggs when a nest fails — thus this project will double the number of broods in a year — while increasing the survivorship of the captive-reared birds.

On Sept. 28, the first cohort of five captive-reared Aga were released on public lands on Rota. An additional five birds will be released into the same area later in the year. Researchers will continue to monitor and support the birds for approximately one year after the release to ensure their continued success in the wild.
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