Pittsboro, NC [May 4, 2016] – Today, The Livestock Conservancy is releasing its 2016 Conservation Priority List, and is excited to report that overall trends in North America are improving for endangered livestock and poultry breeds. 25 breeds have improved in status, 12 have declined, and 3 have been added to the list. 2 breeds of chickens, Orpingtons and Wyandottes, now have secure populations and are no longer at risk of extinction.
The majority of changes this year have occurred in the poultry categories, because The Livestock Conservancy recently completed an extensive nationwide poultry census, which polled thousands of poultry keepers to determine the population status of more than 90 poultry breeds. It revealed that more than 25% of poultry breeds’ populations grew in the past ten years.
“Even with the progress we have made in some breeds, many others still have a long way to go” said Dr. Alison Martin, the Conservancy’s executive director. According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at least 17% of breeds worldwide are at risk of extinction.¹ In North America, the percentage of endangered breeds is much higher than average due to highly specialized agriculture, in which production is dominated by just a few breeds.
“The Livestock Conservancy’s priority list serves as the guide for our conservation efforts and shows us which breeds need the most help,” said Martin. “Some breeds like Choctaw hogs, Crèvecoeur chickens, and Caspian horses are actually much more rare than endangered wildlife species that most people are familiar with.” The Conservancy currently lists 51 breeds as Critically Endangered, meaning that they could easily become extinct without careful monitoring and breeding strategies in place. An additional 113 breeds are in less critical categories, but are still in need of conservation.