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Ellen Paul

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  1. Sarah R - please address that question directly to Ecorana Environmental or the North American Banding Council. https://www.facebook.com/NorthAmericanBandingCouncil/ It is unlikely that someone who posted a notice two years ago will return to see if anyone has commented two years later.
  2. After nearly 29 years of Federal service including 11 years as Chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL), I have decided to retire at the end of 2019. The responsibility of leading the US Bird Banding Program has presented numerous challenges and opportunities. It has been a great privilege to have served in this capacity and help advance the contributions of the BBL in support of research, conservation, and the management of North American bird populations. USGS has not yet finalized its transition plans for replacing me. You should expect for acting BBL Chief(s) to lead the program for 1-2 years before a permanent replacement is hired. During this transition, the BBL staff will assume additional responsibilities. Processing applications for new banding permits and requests for permit modifications will probably slow down and you should allow for a minimum of 3-4 months to be complet e these requests. Please send all permit-related requests to the BBL permits office (BBL_Permits@usgs.gov) to ensure that these requests are handled as efficiently as possible. Other BBL support activities for banders will also likely be slower during this transition. Your patience will be greatly appreciated as the BBL staff deals with the increased workload. During my tenure as BBL Chief, the program experienced annual reductions in the resources available to operate the lab. Since 2008, the budget has been reduced by half and the staff was reduced by nearly 40%. Despite these drastic cuts, the size of the banding program did not change. Maintaining the banding program under these circumstances is testimony to the dedication and hard work of the entire BBL staff. I am sure that the staff will continue their high level of support for the banding program during the transition to a new Chief and hope that you will work with the staff to make this transition as smooth as po ssible. It has been an honor to work with everyone over the years. While I am retiring from this job, I am not retiring as a bird bander and hope to see you somewhere out in the field banding birds. Bird banding remains an essential tool to advance ornithological science and bird conservation, and every bander should be proud of their contributions towards advancing this science. BRUCE PETERJOHN, BBL CHIEF BIRD BANDING LABORATORY
  3. Service Streamlines Permit System New electronic payment function will expedite permit applications, helping the public and wildlife November 25, 2019 In an effort to simplify, expedite, and improve the permit application process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took a first step today to create a more robust and efficient electronic permitting system. Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would otherwise be prohibited by law. Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife. Each year, the Service issues approximately 65,000 permits. The addition of an electronic payment capability will impact 48,000 permits. Prior to developing an electronic permitting system, applicants had to apply for permits through mail with paper checks. By adding pay.gov, a secure electronic payment system, this capability will be available for all migratory birds and the most widely used international affairs permits. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a world-renowned conservation agency that is committed to using the latest technology to serve the American public,” said Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “Updating the current system to allow electronic payments will help simplify the permitting process while improving efficiency and reducing regulatory burdens.” The Service is working to deploy a modern permitting system that will seamlessly guide users to the right permit applications for their needs, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and make the application process faster and more efficient. The Service issues permits under several domestic and international laws and treaties such as the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Wild Bird Conservation Act and the Lacey Act. These laws protect species that are threatened by overexploitation and other factors, such as habitat loss. By applying for permits, the public helps conserve and protect imperiled species throughout the world. Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activities to go forward. To apply for permits through the Service’s new payment platform, visit: https://epermits.fws.gov/. For more information regarding the permitting process, visit: https://www.fws.gov/permits/.
  4. 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. "A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to ease protections for an iconic bird that makes its home on millions of acres of oil and gas-rich sagebrush lands, dealing a blow to government efforts to allow more drilling, mining and logging in the west. Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho granted a preliminary injunction that suspends efforts by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to weaken protections for the bird, known as the greater sage grouse, in ten states. While the halt is temporary, the judge indicated that the environmental organizations that brought the legal challenge — arguing that the Interior Department failed to consider reasonable alternatives and did not thoroughly examine the environmental consequences of its actions — is likely to prevail." https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/climate/trump-sage-grouse.html Analysis: The process of re-writing the NEPA documents could take many months. Say....to November 2020....
  5. Update 10-16-19: After the Dept of the Interior (DOI) lost its motion to dismiss, the Court gave DOI until 9-6-19 to file an answer to the original complaint (lawsuit). DOI filed that response (appended to this message). The Court also ordered DOI to produce the "administrative record" which is the documentation of DOI's decision-making process by 9-20. It is not apparent from the online records available as of this date that DOI has done so. DOI-Answer-10-6.pdf
  6. California is now dealing with the incidental take of migratory birds on its own, in response to the federal government's declaration that the law does not prohibit incidental take. On Sept 27, the governor signed Assembly Bill 454, which states that incidental to otherwise lawful activity is permitted only if the entity completes a certification process by submitting certain information to the department, and the entity implements best management practices for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating take of migratory nongame birds, as identified by the entity pursuant to specified guidelines, so that there is no that are intended to avoid significant adverse impact, impacts, as defined, to migratory nongame birds from the activity. birds. The bill would require, as a condition of this incidental take authority, part of the certification process, the submission of an annual status reports to the department after the initial certification. The bill would specify the information to include in a certification and annual status reports. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2627
  7. Yesterday (9/26) a Senate committee approved Skipwith’s nomination Wednesday in a party-line vote of 11-10. This vote came despite revelations that she has ties to the Westlands Water District, a political powerhouse with a history of chafing against Endangered Species Act regulations that can interfere with farmers’ demands for water in California. The Guardian reported that Skipwith’s fiance, Leo Giacometto, is a former lobbyist who worked on behalf of Westlands from 2005 to 2010 in his role as the founder of Gage International. Skipwith has said she was an “unpaid adviser” for Gage starting in 2013. From the Guardian: "Jayson O’Neill, the deputy director of Western Values Project, a public lands watchdog group based in Montana, claimed that Skipwith’s resumé – she is a lawyer with a master’s degree in genetics – shows she is unqualified. He said David Bernhardt, Trump’s interior secretary, is hiring her for her “deep ties to the swamp and special interests”. Under 16 U.S.C. 742(b): No individual may be appointed as the Director unless he is, by reason of scientific education and experience, knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management." Interior, led by David Bernhardt who once sued the US government on behalf of Westlands, aiming to roll back protections for winter-run Chinook salmon in California. is currently working to loosen protections for imperiled fish in California, which would be a boon to Westlands and other irrigators who want to pull more water out of regional rivers and reservoirs. The rollback would likely harm endangered salmon, delta smelt, and other aquatic species in California. As the director of the FWS, Skipwith would be crucially placed to shape the outcome of those efforts.
  8. Provide emergency funds to help restore birds and habitats in the Bahama Islands The northern Bahama Islands have been utterly devastated by Hurricane Dorian. This Category 5 storm battered the Abacos and Grand Bahama for more than two days with 185 to 220 mph winds and a storm surge in excess of 23 feet. The damage to communities, lives, and habitats is unprecedented and heartbreaking. I am asking for your assistance to help birds and nature recover. Our long-time partner, the Bahamas National Trust, needs all the help we can give them to help birds survive, and clean up and restore vital habitats. They need funds to carry out bird surveys, provide supplemental feeding, repair and replace damaged equipment and infrastructure, and restore their national parks on these islands. I ask you to read about the threatened and endemic birds that we are most worried about and find out how you can immediately help to save them and restore their habitats. Please be as generous as you can and give today. With heartfelt thanks for your support, Lisa Sorenson, Ph.D. Executive Director, BirdsCaribbean p.s. Please share this email with your friends and networks that might be able to help. Thank you! Four threatened endemic species on Grand Bahama and Abaco (clockwise from upper left): Bahama Parrot, Bahama Swallow, Bahama Warbler, Bahama Nuthatch. (photos by Lynn Gape, Melanie Rose Wells, Erika Gates, Bruce Hallett)
  9. From the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Brown leaves behind an inspirational legacy of conservation by Shawna Richter-Ryerson | Natural Resources Nebraska's Mary Bomberger Brown (right) smiles as a crew prepares for an interview. Bomberger Brown, a Nebraska graduate and faculty member, dedicated her career to conservation, especially with endangered bird populations. Mary Bomberger Brown, 62, associate professor of practice at the School of Natural Resources and coordinator of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, died due to complications from cancer on Aug. 24, in her home in Lincoln. Her contributions to conservation, especially with endangered bird populations, and to the science of avian biology will have a lasting impact on the state and region. Bomberger Brown, a Nebraska native, started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as an undergraduate student in biological sciences ― at a time when few women pursued scientific degrees ― and graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree with distinction. She went on to earn a master’s degree in biological sciences from Nebraska in 1982, before taking research associate positions at Princeton University, Yale University and then University of Tulsa. As a researcher, she was integral to the success of the Cliff Swallow Project conducted at Cedar Point Biological Station in western Nebraska for more than 35 years, helping coordinate the student workers, capturing birds, recording their details and banding their legs. Data collected from the long-term study, still ongoing today, is considered to be the largest in the world. In 1996, Bomberger Brown co-wrote “Coloniality in the Cliff Shallow: The Effect of Group Size on Social Behavior,” which has been cited in innumerable research papers since its publication. Her work in cliff swallows also earned her a shared Elliot Coues lifetime achievement award from the American Ornithologists’ Union in 2009 for extraordinary contributions to ornithological research. In 2011, Bomberger Brown earned her doctorate in applied ecology from the School of Natural Resources, and promptly became a research assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor of practice in 2017. As the tern and plover program coordinator, her work was dedicated to bridging the gap between sand and gravel miners and state and federal regulatory agencies to create dedicated habitat and support conservation efforts for the endangered least terns and plovers. Video of Mary: “She continued to band plovers and terns, and was delighted when she received reports and photos of plovers from Nebraska on their wintering beaches to the south,” said Larkin Powell, professor of natural sciences, colleague and close friend to Bomberger Brown. “Mary also contributed to work on secretive marsh birds and investigations of wind energy effects on greater prairie-chickens.” Over the course of her career, Bomberger Brown earned no fewer than six notable national awards. She also authored more than 160 scientific papers; had her research featured in more than 200 articles, news releases, television stories or nature documentaries; mentored more than 100 student field researchers; and personally advised 24 undergraduate and graduates students in their pursuit of higher-ed degrees. “When I think of Mary, I think of how much she selflessly cares,” said Amy Oden, who Bomberger Brown advised from 2011 to 2013. “When I was a graduate student, she strived to make my work, and by extension my skills as a researcher and writer, better. Her teaching method was always positive; I never once saw any disappointment from her. Instead, my research gained more aspects and my scientific writing became proficient enough to be publishable with her help. “Long after I graduated and was no longer her student, she still kept in contact with me over coffee or tea,” she added. “Years beyond being my graduate advisor, she continues to advise me on life, work, and people.” Bomberger Brown avidly worked to engage the public on conservation issues, working with the Platte River Time Lapse project, providing resources to teachers across the state, giving educational tours during the annual Sandhill Crane migration, and even supporting the after-school program at Irving Middle School in Lincoln. Until March of this year, she attended every meeting of the Chimney Swift Club, a collection of Irving students who advocated for ― and won — saving the school’s chimney from remodeling efforts in 2015 so it could remain a roosting spot for the swifts that live there. The club continues to thrive, fostering partnerships with those who care about birds and nature. “She is the reason that the Chimney Swift Club was such a great success,” said Deanna Hughes, a recently retired Irving Middle School science teacher and friend. “Mary inspired and touched so many young lives — and some not so young, including mine.” Some of those lives include those of scientists across the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In 2015, Bomberger Brown advised the launch the Association of Women in Science chapter in the School of Natural Resources. This led the university to become an institutional member of the national Association of Women in Science in 2017, furthering its commitment to advancing women’s equity and inclusion on campus. “Throughout her career, she quietly demonstrated the value of female scientists,” Powell said. “Mary is among those cited by professional societies as influential women in ornithology and ecology.” Mary Bomberger Brown poses with students from Irving Middle School. She supported an after-school program at Irving and worked with students who successfully saved a swift roosting spot within a chimney at the school. In 2013, she was named a fellow in the American Ornithologists' Union, a prestigious award given only to those who have given exceptional and sustained contributions to ornithology or to the organization. John Carroll, director of SNR, said Bomberger Brown will remain among the elite in her contributions to science in her field. “Mary loved her work in conservation and avian biology, but that was just part of her,” he said. “She loved SNR, UNL, Lincoln, and Nebraska.” She is the model, he said, of how to live a life worth living. Powell adds that his research career and his life would not have been the same without the influence of Bomberger Brown’s mentorship and friendship. “What an impact she provided for conservation, for biology, for ecology, and for her community of friends and colleagues,” he said. “We will all miss her terribly, but I imagine the birds will miss her most of all.” Bomberger Brown was born on April 11, 1957. She is survived by her brother, David Bomberger, of Denver, Colorado; one niece; and numerous relatives, colleagues and friends. A memorial service for her is being planned for Oct. 8; additional details are pending and will be announced.
  10. UPDATE 6 AUGUST 2019: THE LAWSUIT HAS SURVIVED THE GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, AT LEAST IN PART. In essence, the Court ruled that the States (the two cases were consolidated; the plaintiffs are now both state governments and several NGOs) have standing to pursue the case in court because the DOI M-Opinion excluding liability for incidental take creates a "substantial risk that migratory birds owned by the States will be killed by private actors." Since the state owns all wildlife except privately owned wildlife, the state would suffer a loss. In other words, there is a potential of harm to a protectable interest, and that is a legal basis for standing. "That substantial risk of injury to a State’s proprietary interest constitutes injury in fact." The Court also ruled that the National Audubon Society's claim could continue, as it “has standing to bring suit on behalf of its members when its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right, the interests at stake are germane to the organization’s purpose, and neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.” However, one legal aspect of the case was rejected by the Court. National Audubon had asserted that the M-Opinion was invalid because the DOI had not complied with the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The Court noted that the applies only to actual rulemakings and not to interpretive decisions and that the M-Opinion is an interpretive decision. The Court did rule that the M-Opinion is subject to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and presumably, will, as the case proceeds, enjoin implementation of the M-Opinion until the DOI complies with NEPA. Which, in essence, could be game over in that NEPA compliance can be a lengthy process, often resulting in additional litigation. The clock could run out on this Administration if....2020. N.B. That the actual M-Opinion may not go into force is not necessarily going to change the ultimate outcome. The fact is that the government has prosecutorial discretion, meaning it can determine which cases, if any, it wants to prosecute. It is nearly impossible to force the government to prosecute. In fact, there was never really a need for this M-Opinion to have been issued in the first place, except as a sop to industry, because DOI and DOJ could merely have decided not to prosecute...and they still can do just that. RulingMotionDismissJuly31.pdf
  11. 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. Among the many "actings" and "special appoinments" running the government these days is one Dan Jorjani, who was nominated to officially take over as solicitor for the department. Since being named "principal deputy solicitor" at the beginning of this Administration, Jorjani has been functioning as the de facto solicitor as the Administration chose not to nominate anyone for this Senate-confirmed position until April 2019, when Jorjani was formally nominated. Jorjani has been a busy boy, doing the Administration's dirty work. For ornithologists, the most despicable of his acts was the nearly immediate revocation of an M-Opinion issued at the 11th hour of the Obama administration by former solicitor Hillary Tompkins. Her M-Opinion stated unequivocally that the MBTA does cover incidental take. A few weeks after revoking that M-Opinion, Jorjani issued a new M-Opinion stating that the MBTA does NOT cover incidental take. That M-Opinion is now the subject of litigation in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York. The nomination, which has been widely and strongly opposed by numerous conservation organizations, has now been placed on hold by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden is seeking to block the nomination and calling for an investigation after the nominee appeared to lie to lawmakers during during his confirmation hearing about the department's public records policy. The stated objection concerns a claim by Jorjani that although he is officially responsible for implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and responsible for a new policy that limits FOIA requests, he is not responsible for oversight or implementation of the Department's FOIA decisions. Some of Jorjani's other destructive policies are outlined by the National Parks and Conservation Association. Of course, even if Jorjani's nomination fails, these policies - including the MBTA policy - are unlikely to change unless the Courts act or unless .... 2020. The reality is that he can remain as principal deputy secretary, a position that does not require Senate confirmation, or the Administration can nominate someone else who will, of course, simply continue to work in opposition to DOI's mission and purpose.
  12. As most of you know, The University of Alaska Museum of the North has world-class collections in many disciplines, documenting and safeguarding Alaska’s natural and cultural history and making it available to students and researchers from Alaska and worldwide. The museum would not be able to function without the state appropriation, which is spent on curation and collections management to fulfill its legal obligations as a collections repository. The UA Museum also does a lot of student training and, yes, some research, too. It is a very lean, highly functional unit with partnerships in collections, education, research, and exhibits throughout Alaska and the world. PLEASE WRITE ASAP. A SAMPLE LETTER IS ATTACHED. SEND TO THE UA BOARD OF REGENTS [ua-bor@alaska.edu] AND COPY TO: ua.president@alaska.edu, ua-bor@alaska.edu, jndavies@alaska.edu, sburetta@alaska.edu, dganderson@alaska.edu, lmparker2@alaska.edu, jbania@alaska.edu, regent.garrett@gmail.com, drhargraves@alaska.edu, mkhughes@alaska.edu, goneill@citci.org, krperdue@alaska.edu, andy.teuber@gmail.com PLEASE ALSO E-MAIL COPIES TO THE STATE LEGISLATORS WHO ARE WORKING TO PASS A SUPPPLEMENTAL BUDGET THAT REVERSES MANY OF THE CUTS. HOUSE: leg.gov,Representative.Matt.Claman@akleg.gov,Representative.Harriet.Drummond@akleg.gov,Representative.David.Eastman@akleg.gov, Representative.Bryce.Edgmon@akleg.gov,Representative.Zack.Fields@akleg.gov,Representative.Neal.Foster@akleg.gov, Representative.Sara.Hannan@akleg.gov,Representative.Grier.Hopkins@akleg.gov,Representative.Sharon.Jackson@akleg.gov, Representative.Delena.Johnson@akleg.gov,Representative.Jennifer.Johnston@akleg.gov,Representative.Andy.Josephson@akleg.gov, Representative.Gary.Knopp@akleg.gov,Representative.Chuck.Kopp@akleg.gov,Representative.Jonathan.KreissTomkins@akleg.gov, Representative.Bart.LeBon@akleg.gov,Representative.Gabrielle.Ledoux@akleg.gov,Representative.John.Lincoln@akleg.gov, Representative.Kelly.Merrick@akleg.gov,Representative.Mark.Neuman@akleg.gov,Representative.Daniel.Ortiz@akleg.gov, Representative.Lance.Pruitt@akleg.gov,Representative.Sara.Rasmussen@akleg.gov,Representative.George.Rauscher@akleg.gov, Representative.Josh.Revak@akleg.gov,Representative.Laddie.Shaw@akleg.gov,Representative.Ivy.Spohnholz@akleg.gov, Representative.Andi.Story@akleg.gov,Representative.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov,Representative.Colleen.SullivanLeonard@akleg.gov, Representative.David.Talerico@akleg.gov,Representative.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov,Representative.Steve.Thompson@akleg.gov, Representative.Cathy.Tilton@akleg.gov,Representative.Chris.Tuck@akleg.gov,Representative.Sarah.Vance@akleg.gov, Representative.Tammie.Wilson@akleg.gov,Representative.Adam.Wool@akleg.gov,Representative.Tiffany.Zulkosky@akleg.gov SENATE Senator.Tom.Begich@akleg.gov,Senator.Chris.Birch@akleg.gov,Senator.Click.Bishop@akleg.gov,Senator.John.Coghill@akleg.gov,Senator.Mia.Costello@akleg.gov,Senator.Cathy.Giessel@akleg.gov,Senator.Elvi.GrayJackson@akleg.gov,Senator.Lyman.Hoffman@akleg.gov,Senator.Shelley.Hughes@akleg.gov,Senator.Scott.Kawasaki@akleg.gov,Senator.Jesse.Kiehl@akleg.gov,Senator.Peter.Micciche@akleg.gov,Senator.Donald.Olson@akleg.gov,Senator.Lora.Reinbold@akleg.gov,Senator.Mike.Shower@akleg.gov,Senator.Bert.Stedman@akleg.gov,Senator.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov,Senator.Natasha.vonImhof@akleg.gov, Senator.Bill.Wielechowski@akleg.gov,Senator.David.Wilson@akleg.gov
  13. 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. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/454805-interior-whistleblowers-say-agency-has-sidelined-scientists-under EXCERPTS: Former Interior Department employees who say they experienced retaliation at the agency for their work on scientific endeavors appeared before lawmakers on 25 July 2019. Among those testifying were Joel Clement, a whistleblower who said he was removed from his work on climate change and reassigned to an accounting role. Also testifying was Maria Caffrey, who said she had to fight with the Interior Department to keep references to the human contributions to climate change in a report on how sea level rise would impact national parks. Clement said under the Trump administration, the Interior Department “has sidelined scientists and experts, flattened the morale of the career staff, and by all accounts, is bent on hollowing out the Agency.” Clement, now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, said he was removed from his work with 30 Alaska Native communities that were “one big storm away from being wiped right off the map” and needed to be immediately relocated. Caffrey, whose research was funded by the Interior Department, said she found herself repeatedly demoted at the agency after pushing to keep references to the human impacts of climate change in her report. “It removes the meaning from my study. I prepared four different climate scenarios for those three different time periods, so those scenarios hang on how much greenhouse gases we produce in the future,” she said, including how much humans contribute to the atmosphere. “I had become at outcast for standing up,” she added, noting the department told her they didn’t want her help even on a volunteer basis. She is now looking for work in the Denver area. The hearing was to discuss the Scientific Integrity Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) that would add protections for government scientists, including allowing them to publish research outside of government channels and establish a Scientific Integrity Officer. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that "it’s no secret that the Trump administration is not a fan of science.” “There are the stories that career scientists at Interior are too afraid to share. And with good reason. They have seen their colleagues, like our witnesses, get threatened, harassed, reassigned, and retaliated against,” he added. Scientists have been vocal about what they view as mistreatment under the Trump administration. They have cited examples, ranging from limiting government-funded scientists from sitting on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) board to a proposal to limit what kind of studies can be considered by the EPA, to recent plans to relocate U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers and Bureau of Land Management policymakers. “To purge the language of climate change from the agency entirely is a direct assault on the science we know is very prominent and very clear on the risk to the mission of the agency that we act now to protect real people in harm’s way,” Clement said. Interior was invited to attend the hearing but did not send a representative.
  14. 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. Aurelia Skipwith, currently the the deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Department of the Interior, has been re-nominated to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The position has not had a permanent director since the end of the Obama administration. Until August 2018, Greg Sheehan held the post in an acting capacity. Ms. Skipwith was first nominated in 2018 but the 115th Congress did not act on her nomination. In the interim, Meg Everson has been the acting director. Ms. Skipwith is a biologist and lawyer who spent more than six years at the agriculture giant Monsanto. She joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013. However, she seems not to meet the statutory requirement for this position, which, under 16 U.S.C. 742(b) mandates that: No individual may be appointed as the Director unless he is, by reason of scientific education and experience, knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management.Although Ms. Skipwith has a master's degree, it is in animal science (Purdue University, 2005). The areas of specialization offered in that program are: Animal Behavior and Welfare, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Management, Meat Science and Food Safety, Neuroscience, Nutrition, and Physiology. In addition, Ph.D. programs are offered in the area of Interdisciplinary Genetics (IGNT). After earning a law degree, she spent four months as an intern in a USDA foreign agriculture program focusing on crops, then seven months as an intellectual property consultant for USAID, focusing on food security. She next spent slightly over a year as assistant general counsel and regulatory affairs coordinator for a company that makes animal food. She began her career at Monsanto and worked her way up from a lab technician to sustainable agriculture partnership manager.
  15. UPDATE JULY 15: The court asked the parties to consider having the three cases consolidated and "The parties in all three actions have conferred, and all parties consent to the consolidation of the three cases, with two caveats. First, the Audubon Plaintiffs consent to consolidation with the understanding that it would not prejudice their ability to litigate the NEPA and notice and comment claims asserted in their complaint but not in the NRDC Action or the States’ Action. Second, plaintiffs in each of the three cases request that they be permitted to continue to file separate briefs if there is further motion practice in the consolidated proceeding. Defendants do not object to the plaintiffs’ requests."
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