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    • Powdermill Avian Research Center (www.powdermillarc.org) is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its first ever virtual workshop on Motus technology beginning 11am (EST) Friday March 19th and ending 4pm Sunday March 21st, 2021. Workshop sessions will run from 11am to 1pm (EST) with an hour-long break for lunch, and then 2pm to 4pm (EST). The workshop will be held via Zoom and hosted by Powdermill Nature Reserve, the field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Northeast Motus Collaboration. Due to the virtual nature of this workshop, a strong internet connection is highly recommended. The workshop is aimed towards those with little or no experience utilizing nanotags and the Motus Wildlife Network.  Participants will learn the necessary components of setting up a Motus station and attaching nanotags to live birds. Presentations will focus on project planning, examples of how the network has been used for research, and limitations of the technology.  Workshop registration is $300 for professionals, $150 for students and professionals working within Latin America. For more information and to register visit https://powdermillarc.org/motus-workshop/. 
    • Wind energy is an important technology as society moves toward identifying green sources of energy. However, wind turbines can cause a negative impact on local wildlife, including bird and bat fatalities, which occur when they collide with rotating turbine blades. In a recently released study, “Eagle fatalities are reduced by automated curtailment of wind turbines,” in the Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers from The Peregrine Fund, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc., and the U.S. Geological Survey, tested an automated computer vision system called IdentiFlight. This system is designed to use cameras and machine learning to detect eagles near turbines, so turbines can be shut off, reducing fatalities of eagles at wind energy sites. Use of the new IdentiFlight system resulted in an 82% reduction of eagle fatalities.   IdentiFlight is an automated curtailment system consisting of cameras and software programmed for detecting flying objects, classifying them, and stopping turbines from spinning when an eagle is at threat of collision. The study to test IdentiFlight was performed at Duke Energy Renewables’ Top of the World Windpower facility in Wyoming, USA and included before and after studies as well as control and treatment sites. The research determined that the number of fatalities at the treatment site declined by 63% between the before and after periods of testing IdentiFlight while fatality numbers increased at the control site by 113%. These estimates are corrected for seasonal and site-specific variation in rates of detection of eagle carcass and rates of removal of carcasses by scavengers.   Dr. Chris McClure, Director of Global Conservation Science at The Peregrine Fund and lead author on this study, concludes, “These results show that using the IdentiFlight system can lessen numbers of fatalities of eagles at wind energy facilities, reducing the conflict between wind energy and raptor conservation.”   Dr. Todd Katzner of the U.S. Geological Survey adds, “It is important to note that while this technology significantly reduced eagle collisions, it did not completely eliminate them. Next steps could include partnering this technology with other mitigation actions, such as avoiding construction of turbines in high-risk areas for wildlife conflict.”   “IdentiFlight was excited to see independent verification that our technology protects wildlife and supports power production from renewable sources,” said Carlos Jorquera, chief technology officer for IdentiFlight.  “One of the advantages of the IdentiFlight system is its ability to learn from the massive amounts of data that it collects daily from eagles and other protected bird species around the world.  By leveraging artificial intelligence technologies such as machine-learning and convolutional neural networks, the system continuously improves as the data set grows. We are very excited and confident for IdentiFlight to continue to demonstrate dramatic improvements in its efficacy as we enter the new year.”   “Based on our early evaluation of the IdentiFlight technology, anecdotally we were convinced that it would greatly reduce eagle fatalities at our Top of the World Windpower project in Wyoming. This independent research confirms our earlier predictions and shows how the technology can effectively perform over an extended period of time,” said Tim Hayes, environmental director with Duke Energy Renewables. “It is our mission to reduce impacts to wildlife while generating affordable, clean energy for the communities we serve. IdentiFlight is just one way we support the environment in which our renewable energy projects operate.”    Dr. McClure says, “As this technology continues to develop and improve, it has the potential to greatly impact raptor conservation around the globe. This is important because we know that more than half of the world’s raptors have declining global populations, and energy infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid rate in places like sub-Saharan Africa where the majority of Endangered and Critically Endangered Vultures are at high risk of collision.”   CONTACT Erin Katzner, Director of Global Engagement (208) 362-8277 direct (412) 606-1653 cell (208) 362-3716 main erinkatzner@peregrinefund.org www.peregrinefund.org   IdentiFlight CONTACT                                                 Duke Energy Renewables CONTACT Shelley Vierra                                                                 Jennifer Garber Director of Marketing and Communications                   Corporate Communications (720) 545-0982                                                               800-559-3853 shelley.vierra@identiflight.com                                       Jennifer.garber@duke-energy.com                                                                                                      ###   The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 to restore the then critically endangered Peregrine Falcon, which was subsequently removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1999. That success encouraged the organization to expand its focus and apply its experience and understanding to raptor conservation efforts on behalf of 140 species in 66 countries worldwide, including the Bald Eagle, California Condor, and Aplomado Falcon in the United States. The Peregrine Fund changes the future for nature and humanity by conserving birds of prey worldwide. Whether the threat is poisoning, habitat loss, human persecution, or any other cause, we use sound science to tackle the most pressing conservation issues head-on.  We accomplish high impact results by preventing raptor extinctions, protecting areas of high raptor conservation value, and addressing landscape-level threats impacting multiple species. As a catalyst for change, we inspire people to value raptors and take action, and we invest in tomorrow's conservation leaders.  By working with communities around the world to protect the wildlife and habitats on which they depend, we are able to create lasting conservation results while improving people’s ways of life.  Support for our work comes from individual donors, corporations, foundations, and government grants.        
    • This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 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. Two lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the recently finalized rule limiting the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  The National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club joined together to file a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, asking the court to declare the final MBTA rule illegal and set it aside.  The attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington also filed a package of five lawsuits in the same federal court this week, challenging several recent actions of the Trump administration, including the MBTA rule.  In August, the Southern District of New York issued a ruling invalidating the internal Department of Interior memo on which the final MBTA rule is based. The lawsuit was the result of a consolidation of two lawsuits filed in 2018, one with NGO plaintiffs and one filed by states – both with many of the plaintiffs as this week’s lawsuits.  The final rule is also slated to be reviewed by the new administration, as part of a wider review of all recent agency actions that it is conducting.  Read more about the MBTA final rule here.  American Bird Conservancy's press release. National Audubon Society's press release.   About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 10 scientific societies of ornithologists; these societies span the Western Hemisphere and the research conducted by their members spans the globe. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our 10 member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one of our member societies or donating directly at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!
    • This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 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. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that it is reducing the critical habitat designated for the Northern Spotted Owls by nearly 3.5 million acres. Just last month, the agency determined that up-listing the owl, from threatened to endangered, under the Endangered Species Act was warranted - but that it was precluded by higher priority actions.  The critical habitat proposal was first released in August, but the final rule bears little resemblance to the initial proposal, which would have reduced designated critical habitat by only 200,000 acres. The final rule would reduce the critical habitat designated for Northern Spotted Owl in California, Oregon, and Washington from about 9.6 million acres to about 6.1 million acres. Under section 4(b)(2) of the ESA, the Interior Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he or she determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of including that area as critical habitat. However, the Secretary may not make such an exclusion if he or she determines, based on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species. As stated in the Federal Register, in this case, the Secretary determined that the benefits of exclusion of particular areas of critical habitat outweigh the benefits of designation of particular areas of critical habitat based on economic, national security, and other relevant impacts.  The proposal goes into effect on March 16. The incoming Biden administration could chose to set aside the rule and develop a new one in its place.  About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 10 scientific societies of ornithologists; these societies span the Western Hemisphere and the research conducted by their members spans the globe. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management.  The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our 10 member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one of our member societies or donating directly at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!
    • This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 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. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Interior Least Tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos) has recovered and therefore will be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.  According to the USFWS, the Interior Least Tern population has grown from less than 2,000 birds in a few dozen nesting sites in 1985, when the bird was listed under the ESA, to more than 18,000 individuals at more than 480 nesting sites in 18 states today. The final rule notes that the recent change to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, excluding incidental take from its scope, could effect Interior Least Terns. “There is the potential that with removal of the protections of the Act and the proposed regulation that defines the scope of the MBTA, incidental take may increase on some nesting areas,” states the final rule. It continues, “Any adoption of proposed changes to reduce the scope of the take provisions of the MBTA is not likely to affect management commitments currently in place, which are expected to continue following delisting of the Interior least tern, as BMPs and SOPs to avoid incidental take of the tern will continue to be implemented across more than 90 percent of the species' range. We also believe that Federal and State agencies, as well as private industries and individuals, recognize that it is in the public interest to minimize the impacts of lawful activities to Interior least tern and other migratory birds, and the Service shall continue to work with them to do so.” The proposed rule to remove the Interior Least Tern was published in October, 2019. The final rule delisting the bird was published on January 13 and goes into effect on February 12.  ***** USFWS Press Release Trump Administration Celebrates Recovery of America’s Smallest Tern: Across interior least tern’s 18-state range, populations continue to grow and flourish January 12, 2021 Contact(s): Jennifer Koches, jennifer_koches@fws.gov After more than three decades of conservation partnerships inspired by the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is celebrating the delisting of the interior least tern due to recovery. According to the best available science, the diverse efforts of local, state and federal stakeholders across the interior least tern’s 18-state range have helped ensure populations are healthy, stable and increasing into the foreseeable future. The tern will continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. “The Trump Administration and Secretary Bernhardt are committed to the recovery of our Nation’s imperiled species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Dozens of states, federal agencies, tribes, businesses and conservation groups have worked tirelessly over the course of three decades to successfully recover these birds.” When the interior least tern was listed under the ESA in 1985, there were fewer than 2,000 birds and only a few dozen nesting sites scattered across a once-expansive range that covered America’s Great Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley. Today, there are more than 18,000 interior least terns at more than 480 nesting sites in 18 states. To help ensure the species’ continued success, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdictional authority over much of the interior least tern’s range, has made formal post-delisting monitoring and conservation commitments that encompass about 80% of the breeding population. In 2005, the Corps coordinated a range-wide monitoring event that confirmed tern populations were increasing over the previous two decades. The Corps also funded, with the assistance of the Service, the development of a habitat-driven, range-wide population model for the species. This complex model, developed with the American Bird Conservancy, considers interior least tern status and population dynamics with and without continued management at local, regional and range-wide scales across a 30-year period. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is absolutely honored to play a role in a partnership that serves as a model for the potential delisting of other species in the future,” said Major General Diana Holland, Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “For over 30 years, we have partnered with the Service to monitor, conserve and recover this endangered species along the Lower Mississippi River. That partnership demonstrates that, through collaboration, we can protect and recover an endangered species while continuing to provide critical navigation and flood control benefits to the nation.”  “Without the commitment and partnership of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the recovery of the interior least tern would not have been possible,” said Service Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda. “The Corps has implemented conservation measures over the course of decades that have improved habitat for terns along some of America’s largest rivers, such as the Missouri and the Mississippi, and these actions have been central to the tern’s recovery.” “Today’s announcement is welcome news for conservationists in Wyoming and around the country,” said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “After years of hard work and collaboration, the interior least tern will be officially removed from the endangered species list. Since its listing in 1985, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska have worked in good faith with landowners, conservation groups, and the federal government to preserve critical habitat and recover this bird. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan played a critical role in this success story. It now serves as a model for future conservation efforts.”  Least terns are the smallest members of the tern family and feed primarily on small fish. They are generally considered seabirds, but several species are also found along rivers, lakes or other wetlands. They nest along more than 2,800 miles of river channel habitat across the Great Plains and the Lower Mississippi Valley and winter in the Caribbean and South America. States where tern colonies occur are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, least terns were decimated by harvest for their feathers, which were used for making hats. Their nesting habitats were also flooded or degraded by dams and other forms of large river channel engineering during the mid-20th century. Due to the impact of these threats, the bird was listed as endangered under the ESA in 1985 as a distinct population segment of least tern.  Federal and state agencies and industrial partners have all contributed to the interior least tern’s successful recovery. Depending upon local conditions and needs, active habitat management has included: monitoring, protection of nesting areas, improved water flows, dredge material placement, vegetation and predator control. Many of these beneficial activities have become standard practices and will continue after the interior least tern is delisted, such as management and monitoring efforts by states, federal agencies and industries. The ESA requires the Service to implement a post-delisting monitoring plan for the tern for a minimum of five years after delisting to ensure that it remains stable. The plan will include a commitment by the Corps to continue monitoring the species as an indicator of healthy river ecosystems. The Service will publish a notice of the availability when the post-delisting monitoring plan becomes available. Additional Background on ESA Improvements and Accomplishments No administration in history has recovered more imperiled species in their first term than the Trump Administration. Since 2017, 13 species have been delisted from the ESA due to recovery, and another seven species have been downlisted from endangered to threatened. To provide context for this in looking at other administrations in their first term, the Obama Administration recovered six species; the Bush Administration recovered eight species; and the Clinton Administration recovered nine species.  Fish and wildlife conservation depends on federal partnerships with states, landowners, and most importantly sportsmen who directly fund – to the tune of  $1 billion last year alone and more than $23 billion since inception – conservation efforts by purchasing hunting and fishing licenses, fishing tackle, ammunition, boating fuel and other recreational items.   To support stronger on-the-ground conservation efforts, encourage private actions to benefit our most imperiled species and provide greater legal certainty for ESA determinations, the Service updated its ESA regulations in 2019 to improve the implementation of the law. The regulations had not been comprehensively updated since the ESA passed some 40 years ago. The Service’s guidepost for the multi-year, public process was President Trump’s overarching effort to reduce regulatory burden without sacrificing protections for the environment and wildlife. About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 10 scientific societies of ornithologists; these societies span the Western Hemisphere and the research conducted by their members spans the globe. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our 10 member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one of our member societies or donating directly at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!  
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