SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Parrots released into wild as part of conservation effort

A group of scientists opened a cage at dawn on Wednesday and reintroduced 15 endangered Puerto Rican parrots into the wild as part of a conservation program.

The birds flew away without hesitation as they disappeared into a forest near Puerto Rico’s north coast, according to Natural Resources Secretary Carmen Guerrero.

It was the ninth release at the Rio Abajo Nature Preserve since 2006.

Another 204 parrots remain at the preserve, and an estimated 57 to 108 parrots are believed to live in the wild nearby, she said.

The parrots released Wednesday were between 1 and 2 years old and were kept in a cage separate from the other parrots for a year.

Scientists tried to simulate a natural environment in that cage, where they fed them local fruits and showed them how to recognize natural predators.

The Natural Resources Department also manages another breeding center at El Yunque tropical rain forest in northeast Puerto Rico.

Scientists expect to open a third breeding center soon in the western mountain town of Maricao.

The birds are Puerto Rico’s only remaining native parrot. Scientists estimate that as many as 1 million existed in pre-colonial times, with numbers reaching a low of 13 in 1975 following decades of forest clearing to plant coffee, citrus and sugar cane.

MEXICO CITY

Drug-laden drone trying to cross border crashes

Police in a Mexican border city said Wednesday that a drone overloaded with illicit methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot.

Tijuana police spokesman Jorge Morrua said authorities were alerted after the drone fell Tuesday night near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico’s border with California.

Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.

Other innovative efforts have included catapults, ultralight aircraft and tunnels.

– From news service reports