The IUCN conservation status of Ridgway’s Hawk is Critically Endangered, owing to its restricted geographic range and fragmented habitats of limited distribution. Principal threats appear to be human persecution, parasitism by parasitic nest flies (Philornis spp.), and habitat loss. Conservation programs are in place by The Peregrine Fund with the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, Fundación Propagas, and Zoodom. The Peregrine Fund is using hands-on management to increase productivity in the wild population in Los Haitises National Park as well as increasing population size and distribution through a translocation program (hacking of nestlings) at the Puntacana Resort and Club in Punta Cana. In 2016 this population numbered 12 breeding pairs. Peregrine Fund biologists are seeking short- and long-term solutions to parasitism. All project partners conduct environmental education activities to increase awareness and reduce the incidence of humans killing hawks.
Effects of human activity on populations
Direct persecution is a major threat to the survival of adult Ridgway’s Hawk and is a significant source of nest failure (Thorstrom et al. 2007, Woolaver et al. 2014). Human settlers in Los Haitises National Park view the hawk as a threat to their chickens, and shoot them. Although predation on small chicks does occur occasionally, Ridgway’s Hawk more often prey on species that humans strongly dislike, such as snakes and rats. Royal palm (Roystonea borinquena), in which Ridgway’s Hawk most often nest, are coveted for construction material and often are cut down. Environmental education activities conducted by The Peregrine Fund and Fundación Propagas are designed to overcome these negative attitudes and perceptions, and to champion the hawk as a friend of man. Conversion of forest to agricultural plots and pastures is perceived as a threat, but Ridgway’s Hawk is likely more flexible in habitat use than previously thought, as evidenced by the growing Puntacana population in an area of human residences and golf courses (see Habitat).&