USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released a proposed policy document, “Research Involving Free-living Wild Species In Their Natural Habitat,” to assist research institutions in determining whether an activity involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat meets the regulatory definition of “field study.” The proposed policy describes criteria that research facilities could use to identify activities that are invasive, harmful, or that materially alter animal behavior.
This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 11 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council.
Late last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzing their proposed rule to limit the reach of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by exempting incidental take (or unintentional killing or harming) of birds.
The Service announced their proposed rule in January, in an attempt to provide more regulatory certainty to public, industries, states, tribes and other stakeholders. This DEIS assesses the possible effects of their proposed rule, as well as two other possible actions - or alternatives - on migratory birds, other environmental resources, and the economy.
Field season is right around the corner! If you haven't already applied for your permits/renewals, do it ASAP.
URGENT NEWS FOR THOSE NEEDING PERMITS FROM USFWS REGION 8: This information was received by the Ornithological Council on 23 Jan 2020:
Our office is currently very short-staffed and is experiencing a backlog of one year with processing permits and mail.
Do not follow up with a hard copy unless asked to do so or if you are sending a processing fee through the mail. The only way we can accept processing fees is with a hard copy check or money order payable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Reports – if you are submitting a report, no further action is needed.
Applications – if you are submitting an application. No further action is needed; however, we do recommend following up with our office if you have not heard from us after 6 months.
Questions – if you have a question, a response may require research and time. We appreciate your patience and will respond to your inquiry at our earliest opportunity.
The Airborne Hunting Act applies to "any contrivance used for flight in the air" and prohibits "harassment" which is defined as "disturb, worry, molest, rally, concentrate, harry, chase, drive, herd, or torment." Does this mean that ornithologists can't use small unmanned aircraft (SUA) to study birds? IF YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR A STATE PERMIT TO USE DRONES (A STAND-ALONE PERMIT OR AS PART OF YOUR STATE SCIENTIFIC COLLECTING PERMIT, PLEASE CONTACT THE ORNITHOLOGICAL COUNCIL. We want to hear about your experience, particularly if you were NOT working collaboratively with a state or federal agency. UPDATE 27 March 2018: A PowerPoint explaining all U.S. laws that pertain to the use of drones to study wildlife has been posted on BIRDNET.
UPDATE JAN 2019: AS A RESULT OF THE ORNITHOLOGICAL COUNCIL'S EFFORTS, THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE WILL BE ISSUING A NEW REGULATION - PROBABLY IN THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2019 - TO ALLOW THE USE OF DRONES TO STUDY BIRDS. Of course, as the shutdown drags on, the work needed to develop this new regulation will be delayed.
What is the Ornithological Council and why should you support it?
The Ornithological Council is a great resource for ornithologists. We help researchers navigate the permit maze, address animal welfare concerns, publish the peer-reviewed Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research. The Ornithological Council is the voice of scientific ornithology. Learn more here!