The Maricao State Forest in western Puerto Rico has been selected as the site for a third colony in the wild of Puerto Rican parrots on the island, the aim of which is to foster their reproduction and get them off the endangered species list, officials said Thursday.

The announcement was made during the celebration of the 26th edition of the symposium of the island's Natural Resources and Environment Department, which is being held this year and deals with the threatened and endangered species of Puerto Rico.

Leopoldo Miranda, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that establishing a third colony of the parrots is needed to help the species recover and the state forest location combines the desirable characteristics for successfully carrying out that task.

The Maricao State Forest, also known as "Monte del Estado," has an optimal geographic location, an abundance of food, habitat diversity and a good climate, Miranda said.

In Puerto Rico, there are already two populations of the parrots located in the El Yunque National Forest and the Rio Abajo State Forest, both in the eastern part of the island.

The Puerto Rican parrot - Amazona vittata - is a small bird that is distinguished by having a white area around its eyes and a red area above its beak.

Local and U.S. laws punish harming the birds, and violators can be fined anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000 and spend from 90 days to three years behind bars, depending on the severity of the infraction.

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