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The Roseate Tern suffered a drastic population decline in the late 19th century due to hunting for the millinery (hat making) trade. However, with the introduction of protection laws and a change in fashion, the species made a rapid comeback. It is now distributed worldwide in a variety of coastal habitats. The North American subspecies is divided into two separate breeding populations, one in the northeastern US and Nova Scotia and one in the southeastern US and the Caribbean. In 1987, the northeastern population was listed as endangered and the southern population listed as threatened.