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Laura Bies

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  1. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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 is soliciting public input regarding potential changes to their policy for permitting the incidental take of bald and golden eagles. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits any take of bald eagles and golden eagles, except as permitted by federal regulations. Pursuant to regulations, “take” is defined as to pursue, shoot, shoot at, kill, capture, trap, molest, or disturb (50 CFR 22.3). Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue regulations that permit the taking of eagles for various purposes, as long as such take is compatible with the preservation of the eagle. The USFWS published rules regarding eagle incidental take in 2009 and revised them in 2016. The potential changes announced this week aim to streamline the current permitting framework. The agency is soliciting comments on how best to achieve this aim, and is specifically interested in feedback that answers several questions posed in the Federal Register notice: 1. Are there specific protocols, processes, requirements, or other aspects of the current permitting process for incidental take of eagles that hinder permit application, processing, or implementation? 2. What additional guidance, protocols, analyses, tools, or other efficiencies could the Service develop that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for, implementing, and conducting monitoring associated with long-term permits for incidental take of eagles under existing regulations? What are the estimated costs of the suggested additional efficiencies, and how do those costs compare to industry’s current practices? 3. What targeted revisions could be made to existing regulations consistent with the overall permitting framework and PEIS that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and processing long-term permits for incidental take of eagles? 4. Are there potential new regulatory approaches to authorizing incidental take under the Eagle Act, particularly for projects that can be shown in advance to have minimal impacts on eagles, that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and operating under long-term permits for incidental take of eagles? Comments will be accepted for until Oct. 29 and can be submitted here. ****** USFWS Press Release Public Comments Sought by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Improving Incidental Take Permit Process for Bald and Golden Eagles September 13, 2021 Contact(s): Vanessa Kauffman (703-358-2138, vanessa_kauffman@fws.gov) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public input on potential approaches to improve the permitting of incidental take of bald and golden eagles. The bald eagle’s recovery is one of the United States’ most important wildlife conservation success stories. The Service’s intent for both bald and golden eagles is to ensure that the regulations for these permits are consistent with the goal of maintaining stable or increasing breeding populations. “As the nation moves to build back better, the Service and the regulated community share an interest in introducing greater efficiency and predictability into the eagle incidental take permitting process, while ensuring stable or increasing breeding populations of bald and golden eagles,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon A. Estenoz. “We are soliciting public input and feedback on potential approaches to make the permitting process more effective and efficient.” Human development and infrastructure continue to expand in the United States and, at the same time, bald eagle populations are growing throughout their range. The result of these trends is an increasing number of interactions between eagles and industrial infrastructure and a corresponding need for the Service to process more applications for incidental take of eagles. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) prohibits the harm and possession of bald and golden eagles and their parts, nests or eggs, except pursuant to federal regulations. The Eagle Act also authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations to permit the taking of eagles for various purposes, provided the taking is compatible with the preservation of the bald eagle or the golden eagle. Permits for the incidental, or unintentional, take of eagles were first established in 2009 and revised in 2016 to authorize incidental take of bald and golden eagles that results from a broad spectrum of activities, such as utility infrastructure, energy development, residential and commercial construction and resource recovery. The Service is now publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input and feedback on potential approaches to improve permitting of incidental take of eagles. The ANPR will publish in the Federal Register on September 14, 2021, opening a 45-day public comment period until October 29, 2021. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2020-0023 and will include details on how to submit your comments. The ANPR seeks public comment on a number of approaches that could potentially reinforce a more streamlined permitting framework. We seek a variety of information in a number of areas including, but not limited to: What additional guidance, tools or other efficiencies could the Service develop that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and implementing long-term eagle incidental take permits under existing regulations? Are there potential new regulatory approaches to authorizing incidental take under the Eagle Act, particularly for projects that can be shown in advance to confer minimal impacts to eagles, that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and operating under long-term eagle incidental take permits? A complete list of details the Service is seeking can be found in the notice. We will not accept hand-delivered, emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov. The notice also advises the public that the Service may, as a result of public input, prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. More information can be found online at: https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/eagle-management.php ****** About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 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 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!
  2. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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 Ornithological Council recently reached out to the Department of the Interior, asking it to reconsider its 2019 ban on the use of drones. The letter also asks the department to move forward with regulations regarding the use of drones for wildlife research. In late 2017, the Ornithological Council asked the Office of the Solicitor to advise the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other federal agencies, and the state agencies that the use of drones for wildlife research is not subject to the Airborne Hunting Act. It also asked that if the Solicitor determines that the use of drones to study wildlife is subject to the AHA, then the Solicitor should address the need for federal permits because there are few, if any, state laws pertaining to drone use for wildlife research and monitoring. Then, in early 2018, the OC filed a petition for rulemaking, asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue permits for the use of drones to study wildlife. That petition for rulemaking proposed the changes necessary for the USFWS to issue permits under the AHA, since, if the Solicitor determines that the use of drones for wildlife research is covered by the AHA, permits would be needed Given that Interior has not yet taken action on that petition, this week’s letter asks them to move forward and also addresses the ban on the use of drones by Interior employees put in place in 2019. Read the OC’s letter here. More background on the use of drones to research birds is available here. The OC’s fact sheet on drones is available here.
  3. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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 yesterday that it is proposing to list Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, citing climate change as the main threat to the species. While Emperor Penguin populations are currently robust, the species is in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future across a significant portion of its range, according to USFWS. The species rely on sea ice to form breeding colonies, forage for food and avoid predation. As climate change progresses, melting sea ice will threatened Emperor Penguin's survival. There are currently about 61 breeding colonies along Antarctica’s coast, with a total population estimated to be between 270,000 - 280,000 breeding pairs or 625,000 - 650,000 individual birds. The USFWS projects that the population will decrease anywhere from 26 % to 47% by 2050, brining the total population down to between 185,000 and 132,500 breeding pairs. USFWS will take public comments on the proposal until Oct. 3. **** USFWS Press Release U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to List the Emperor Penguin as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act August 3, 2021 Contact(s): Christina Meister, Christina_Meister@fws.gov, (703) 358-2284 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the emperor penguin, a flightless seabird endemic to Antarctica, as threatened with a 4(d) rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Climate change, specifically melting sea ice, is the primary threat to the species. Emperor penguins need sea ice to form breeding colonies, forage for food and avoid predation. As carbon dioxide emissions rise, the Earth’s temperature will continue to increase, causing large patches of sea ice to melt. The melting ice could affect a variety of species, including emperor penguins, who rely on sea ice for survival. “The Service uses the best available science to propose ESA listing determinations,” said Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director of the Service. “Climate change, a priority challenge for this Administration, impacts a variety of species throughout the world. The decisions made by policymakers today and during the next few decades will determine the fate of the emperor penguin.” While emperor penguin populations are currently robust, the species is in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future in a significant portion of its range. There are approximately 61 breeding colonies along the coastline of Antarctica and the species’ population size is estimated to be between 270,000 - 280,000 breeding pairs or 625,000 - 650,000 individual birds. However, according to the best available science, their global population size will likely decrease between 26 percent (to approximately 185,000 breeding pairs) and 47 percent (to approximately 132,500 breeding pairs) by 2050 under low and high carbon emissions scenarios, respectively. The estimated decrease in population size is not equal across Antarctica. The Ross and Weddell Seas are strongholds for the species, and populations in these areas will most likely remain stable. However, emperor penguin colonies within the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific Ocean, and Bellingshausen Sea and Amundsen Sea sectors are projected to decline by over 90 percent due to melting sea ice. While this estimated decline is concerning, the proposal to list the emperor penguin as threatened under the ESA comes while there is still time to prevent the species from becoming endangered throughout a significant portion of its range. Section 4(d) of the ESA allows the Service to issue regulations that are necessary to conserve imperiled species. Accordingly, the Service is proposing a 4(d) rule for the emperor penguin that would provide specific exceptions for any activity that is permitted by the National Science Foundation under the Antarctic Conservation Act. The proposed 4(d) rule would also provide exceptions for interstate commerce from public institutions to other public institutions, specifically museums, zoological parks and scientific institutions; emergency circumstances; salvaging a specimen; or for law enforcement purposes. The Service may also issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities, such as scientific research or projects that enhance the survival of the species in the wild. The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species. Adults may weigh up to 88 pounds and are as tall as 45 inches. Males and females are similar in plumage and size, although males are slightly larger than females. Females lay one egg each breeding season, which males incubate on their feet for two months while females go to sea to feed. Once the egg hatches, males and females alternate between chick rearing duties and food gathering until the chick can regulate its temperature, and then both adults forage simultaneously to provide enough food for their growing chick. Chicks depart the colony after about 150 days, returning again at four years of age to breed for the first time at age five. The proposed rule to list the emperor penguin as threatened under the ESA will publish in the Federal Register on August 4, 2021, opening a 60-day public comment period. The Service will consider comments from all interested parties received by October 3, 2021. Information on how to submit comments is available at www.regulations.gov by searching under docket number FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0043. The Service uses the best available science to make ESA listing determinations and is required to list imperiled species as endangered or threatened regardless of their country of origin. The ESA provides numerous benefits to foreign species, primarily by prohibiting activities such as import, export, take, interstate commerce and foreign commerce. By regulating these activities, the United States helps conserve imperiled species across the world. *** About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 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 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!
  4. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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. Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-Cal.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced The Migratory Bird Protection Act today. The bill affirms that coverage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act extends to incidental take, and also aims to create more certainty for business and incentives for innovation to protect birds. The Trump administration completed a rule-making limiting the MBTA to intentional take of migratory birds during its final days in office. The Biden administration has revoked that rule and begun a new rule-making process regarding incidental take. The bill calls on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a permitting system for incidental take. It also establishes a new mitigation fee to be imposed on unavoidable impacts on birds, with the proceeds going to fund bird conservation programs. Read Reps. Lowenthal and Fitzpatrick’s press release. Read Audubon’s press release. About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 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 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!
  5. In September, the 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 described criteria that research facilities could use to identify activities that are invasive, harmful, or that materially alter animal behavior. The agency has now issued final guidance, in the form of a Tech Note. Under that guidance, activities involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat that meet the definition of a field study and are therefore exempt from IACUC review include procedures where pain/distress is slight or momentary and does not impact well-being, such as observational studies where no animals are captured or handled and where human presence does not impact animal behavior. Activities involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat that do not meet the definition of “field study” and are therefore covered under the AWA regulations and require IACUC oversight include: 1. Studies that involve an invasive procedure, such as major operative procedures, intra-cardiac blood collections, arterial/venous cut downs for catheter placement, or surgical implantation of devices 2. Studies that harms an animal, such as instances where: - the animal experiences pain/distress above minimal and slight; - the animal experiences trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort as a result of handling; - the animal experiences death as a result of the work, in a manner that does not meet the regulatory definition of “euthanasia”: or - the animal experiences impaired function such as amputation of a tail/digit used for digging or climbing. 3. Procedures that materially alter the behavior, such as: - the use of hormones or pheromones to change mating or migration patterns for research purposes; - repeated nest/den disturbance during breeding and rearing of young; or - relocation of migratory animals beyond natural migration routes. Read the full policy here. Read the comments submitted by the Ornithological Council on the proposal here.
  6. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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 announced that it will revise the designation of critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. The Trump administration published a final rule in January, reducing the owl’s critical habitat in Washington, Oregon, and California from 9.6 million acres to about 6.1 million acres. Implementation of that rule was delayed by the Biden administration when it took office. The new proposal, published on July 20, would instead exclude only 204,797 acres from the 9.6 million acres previously set aside. The USFWS noted that, “the large additional exclusions made in the January Exclusions Rule were premised on inaccurate assumptions about the status of the owl and its habitat needs particularly in relation to barred owls.” In addition, that rule “undermined the biological redundancy of the critical habitat network by excluding large areas of critical habitat across the designation and did not address the ability of the remaining units and subunits to function in that network.” The USFWS will accept comments on its proposal until September 20. Learn more about the proposal and submit comments here. About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 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 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!
  7. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 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. On July 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the designation of 649,066 acres of critical habitat across 13 states for the Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa). The critical habitat proposal includes occupied migration and wintering areas of Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. About 40% of the acres overlap with existing critical habitat for other threatened and endangered species. The Rufa Red Knot was listed as a threatened species in 2015 and a draft recovery plan was released earlier this year. Comments will be accepted on the proposal until September 13. On August 18, 2021, the USFWS will hold a virtual public informational meeting from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Eastern Time, followed by a virtual public hearing from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Details about how to submit comments or attend the meeting and hearing can be found here. Read the Federal Register notice here. Learn more about the USFWS’ efforts regarding the Rufa Red Knot here. About the Ornithological Council The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 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 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!
  8. 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. Registered users of USFWS's ePermits system should have received an email recently, letting them know that the way they login to the ePermits system is changing. All ePermits users are now required to set up a login.gov account, in addition to their account with ePermits (note: those accounts should both use the same email address). Instructions from USFWS about how to access your ePermits account are below. As always, members of all OC societies should feel free to contact the OC with permitting questions or problems. We're here to help! *** Notice from USFWS: Dear ePermits user, On Tuesday June 29, 2021, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will launch a new, simplified login experience for ePermits users through a partnership with Login.gov, an official service of the U.S. Federal Government. As a result of this transition, all ePermits users will be required to login through Login.gov using an email address. We understand that this change might cause some confusion for ePermits users. For that reason, please review the guidance provided below or the help center article to make sure you have a smooth transition. Step One: Confirm Email Address associated with your ePermits account (DO THIS NOW) Starting on June 29th, all previous ePermits usernames and passwords will no longer be valid. Moving forward, FWS will link your ePermits and Login.gov accounts by verifying that the email address used in each account matches. How can I verify what my email address is for my ePermits account? Log into your ePermits account prior to June 29th. Note: After June 29th, please contact ePermits Support to request or change your account’s associated email address. Click your initials in the top right-hand corner. Select Profile from the drop-down menu. Locate your email address. Step Two: Create a Login.gov Account (Do this before next login) Since you have created an ePermits account, you will also need to create a Login.gov account. If you do not have a Login.gov account, please follow the directions below. If you have a Login.gov account, please make sure the email address used for Login.gov matches your ePermits account. Instructions for new Login.gov users: Follow these steps to create your Login.gov account. Enter your email address at https://secure.login.gov/sign_ to begin. Note: The email address used during your Login.gov registration must match the one associated with your ePermits account. Click the “Submit” Check your email inbox for a message from Login.gov. Click the “Confirm your email address” button in the message. This will take you back to the Login.gov website. Create your Login.gov password. Set up a second layer of security. As an added layer of protection, Login.gov requires you to set up a second authentication method to keep your account secure. This is referred to as two-factor authentication (2FA). Chose the authentication method that works best for you. Options include: Authentication application Security key PIV or CAC card for federal government employees or military Text message Phone call Backup codes Success! Once you have authenticated, you have created your Login.gov account. For more information, please read Login.gov instructions. Instructions for users with current Login.gov accounts: For those that have an existing Login.gov account, please make sure the email address used in Login.gov matches the one associated with your ePermits account. If the email differs, please follow the instructions below to update your email. Log into your Login.gov account. Select Your Account Select the “add email” Re-enter your account password. Enter your second layer of security code. Check your email for a message from Login.gov. Click the “Confirm your email address” button in the message. This will take you back to the Login.gov website. Success! Once you have added an additional email to your Login.gov account. Important Note for Third-Party Business Users Do you submit permit applications on behalf of another companies or individuals? If yes, if you have not already done so, we recommend that you create your own ePermits business account that is separate from the company or individual. Coming soon, ePermits will be able to connect your ePermits account with your client’s businesses/individual account that will allow you to apply on their behalf. Most importantly, this new functionality will allow you and your client to both view applications and permits online. We will post specific details and instructions about this change on the ePermits homepage as soon as it is available. Thank you, USFWS ePermitting Team *** 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!
  9. Many in the broader ornithological community rely on the issuance of import/export permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do their work. It has come to our attention that the USFWS formalized their Migratory Bird Import/Export Standard Procedures in 2019, and that more consistency among regions may be implemented with respect to these procedures. According to these standards, each shipment would be required to be specified on the face of the permit (including date range, shipment origin/destination, species, type of specimen, and quantity) to be MBTA compliant. Thus, blanket permits for migratory bird import/export may no longer be issued. We are concerned this will cause undue burden for researchers and museums who import/export migratory birds for scientific purposes. In preparation for addressing this issue with USFWS, we are gathering information about MBTA permits from current or recent permit holders. Please complete this short survey no later than 2 July 2021 if you have a current MBTA permit, or have had one within the past five years. Thanks!
  10. 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. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 report, which identifies 269 species of birds that represent high conservation priorities and deserve proactive attention. All major bird groups are represented on the list, but shorebirds, seabirds and some landbirds have particularly high representation. The report covers four distinct geographic scales: 1) the Continental USA, including Alaska; 2) Pacific Ocean islands, including Hawaii; 3) Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Navassa; and 4) continental Bird Conservation Regions and Marine Bird Conservation Regions. Learn more in the press release below and at https://www.fws.gov/birds/. *** USFWS Press Release U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Publishes Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 Report Identifies 269 Species for Highest Conservation Priorities June 15, 2021 Contact(s): Vanessa Kauffman 703-358-2138 vanessa_kauffman@fws.gov In continuing proactive efforts to protect migratory birds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released its Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 report. The publication identifies 269 species of birds that represent high conservation priorities for the Service and deserve proactive attention. This science will be used for cooperative research, monitoring and management actions that can directly or indirectly affect migratory birds with the help of international, federal, state, Tribal and private partners. “This report serves as an early warning indicator for bird species in trouble and will help stimulate the collaborative conservation action needed to bring back declining bird species well before they become threatened or endangered, said Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “Almost 3 billion birds have been lost in North America since 1970, and this scientific information will help focus conservation efforts where they are most needed.” The species that appear in Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 include migratory bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that the Service considers to be in greatest need of conservation attention. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act directs the Service “to identify species, subspecies and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” The Service’s goal is to eliminate the need for additional ESA protections for birds by implementing proactive management and conservation actions that sustain populations well above thresholds of endangerment. The conservation assessment was based on several factors, including population abundance and trends, threats on breeding and nonbreeding grounds and size of breeding and nonbreeding ranges. It encompasses four distinct geographic scales: the Continental U.S., including Alaska; Pacific Ocean islands, including Hawaii; Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Navassa; and continental Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) and Marine Bird Conservation Regions (MBCRs). Of the 269 species identified, 134 are of conservation concern at the Continental scale, 85 at the BCR scale, 30 on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and 33 on Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The report was last updated in 2008. Inclusion in the Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 does not constitute a finding that listing under the ESA is warranted, or that substantial information exists to indicate that listing under the ESA may be warranted. The report and additional information is available online at https://www.fws.gov/birds/. 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!
  11. 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 published a proposal to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) under the Endangered Species Act. Under the proposal, Lesser Prairie Chicken would be separated into two distinct population segments. One population (in northeast Texas Panhandle, southeast Colorado, south-central Kansas and western Oklahoma) would be listed as threatened and another as endangered (in eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle). The proposal would also provide an exemption from the ESA provisions preventing ‘take’ of the threatened population for agricultural activities and controlled burns, in exchange for commitments by the landowners to perform conservation activities. A designation of critical habitat for the Lesser Prairie Chicken is forthcoming. The USFWS will hold two virtual public hearings on the listing in July and will accept comments on the proposal until August 2. UPDATE: USFWS announced on 7/31 that the comment period will be extended until September 1. 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!
  12. 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. Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would revoke the controversial Trump-era rule that changed the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to no longer apply to incidental take (which was originally set to go into effect on Feb. 8.) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the public comment period for an 30 days and today the Ornithological Council submitted comments on the rule, drawing on previous comments submitted by the OC in response to the scoping notice in February 2020, the draft environmental impact statement in July 2020, and the first re-opening of the public comment period in February 2021. The comments stressed the inadequacy of the environmental analysis performed on the rule and encouraged the agency to revert to the previous interpretation of the MBTA. The final rule has also been the subject of litigation, after a court in August 2020 struck down the internal Interior memo on which the new rule is based. The Trump administration had indicated its intent to appeal that case but in February the Biden administration withdrew its appeal. In January, environmental groups filed suit asking the federal court to strike down the new rule. A group of states also banded together to file a similar lawsuit. Read the OC's June 2021 comments. 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!
  13. 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 administration has released its budget proposal for the 2022 Fiscal Year. In general, discretionary spending would increase under the budget, with many wildlife management and conservation programs benefitting. Highlights for birds and bird conservation include: $10.17 billion in overall funding for NSF, a 20% increase for NSF over FY 2021 levels Funding of $66.1 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Management Program, an $18.2 million increase from the 2021 level (which includes an increase of $2.5 million for the Joint Venture program) An increase for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, from $72.4 million to $82.4 million A sizable increase for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, up to $7.9 million from $4.9 million Stable funding for both the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the Multinational Species Conservation Fund A nearly $100 million increase for the Ecosystems program area at the U.S. Geological Survey, from $259 million to $358 million A slight increase for Cooperative Research Units, to $25.5 million Note that Congressional appropriators may consider the president’s proposal when drafting their appropriations bill but are under no obligation to follow it. More information about the DOI budget is available here More information about the USFWS budget is available here (as of May 30, this page was not yet updated for FY 2022) More information about the USGS budget is available here *** Department of the Interior Press Release: Date: Friday, May 28, 2021 Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Makes Significant Investments in Interior Department Proposal would restore balance on public lands and waters, infuse critical resources in Indian Country, advance environmental justice, and build a clean energy future WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris administration today submitted to Congress the President’s budget for fiscal year 2022. The Department of the Interior’s 2022 budget proposal totals $17.6 billion — an increase of $2.5 billion, or 17 percent, from the 2021 enacted level. This significant investment will help the Department address the climate crisis while creating good-paying union jobs and investing in healthy lands, waters, and economies in communities across the country. As the Administration continues to make progress defeating the pandemic and getting our economy back on track, the President’s budget makes historic investments that will help the country build back better and lay the foundation for shared growth and prosperity for decades to come. “The Interior Department plays an important role in the President’s plan to reinvest in the American people. From bolstering climate resiliency and increasing renewable energy, to supporting Tribal nations and advancing environmental justice, President Biden’s budget will make much-needed investments in communities and projects that will advance our vision for a robust and equitable clean energy future,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. The 2022 budget proposal includes the two historic plans the President has already put forward — the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan — and reinvests in education, research, public health, and other foundations of our country’s strength. At the Interior Department, the budget would: Address Climate Challenges and Build Climate Resiliency. The 2022 budget proposal includes more than $1.9 billion in new climate-related investments to conserve and adaptively manage natural resources, increase understanding of how natural resources are changing and what that means, build resilience to protect communities and lands from significant impacts, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The proposal includes funding to help advance the America the Beautiful initiative – the Administration's effort to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 – and includes more than $900 million in funding for Interior and the Department of Agriculture for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The budget proposal also contains funding for wildland fire management, drought mitigation, and science-based investments that will help the Department and communities prepare for and address the aftermath of natural hazard events. Strengthen Tribal Nations. Underscoring the Administration’s focus on Indian Country, the 2022 budget proposal includes $4.2 billion, an increase of $727.8 million from the 2021 enacted level, across all Indian Affairs programs. These investments will support a new Indian Land Consolidation Program, which will address the problem of fractionated lands and enhance the ability of Tribal governments to plan for and adapt to climate change and to build stronger Tribal communities. The budget will also provide increases to strengthen Tribal natural resource programs, Tribal public safety, and efforts to provide leadership and direction for cross-departmental and interagency work involving missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. Create Jobs to Meet Environmental and Energy Challenges. To implement the American Jobs Plan, the 2022 budget proposal includes new investments to create good-paying jobs, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, address the climate crisis, and position the United States to out-compete other countries. The proposal includes an increase of $300 million to support jobs plugging orphan oil and gas wells, cleaning up abandoned mines, and decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure, which will improve the environmental quality of energy communities by addressing serious safety hazards and risks from associated air, water, or other environmental damage. As part of this proposal, the budget includes $169 million for a new Energy Community Revitalization Program, which will help accelerate this remediation and reclamation work on Interior-managed lands and support work on non-federal lands through grants to states and Tribes. The budget proposal also contains $86 million for the Civilian Climate Corps, an initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters. It also includes $249 million in funding to increase renewable energy production on public lands and in offshore waters, which will create jobs and help transition the country to a clean energy future. For more information on the President’s FY 2022 Budget, please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/. ### 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!
  14. 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 National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has appointed Dr. William Bowerman, current Vice Chair of the Ornithological Council, as one of 13 members of a new standing committee on animal welfare. Last fall, the OC nominated Bowerman for the role, after the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research issued a call for nominate experts to serve on a new Standing Committee for the Care and Use of Animals in Research. The new committee will help foster the exchange of ideas and knowledge on how best to make any future updates to the Guide for the Care and Use of Animals in Research, the primary guidance document for animal researchers. Dr. Bowerman is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Toxicology and the Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Toxicology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a world-renowned expert on studying environmental change through its impact on eagle populations, and a highly-regarded researcher, teacher, and leader in the scientific community. The OC has urged the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research to use this new standing committee as an opportunity to involve a subset of researchers that have been heretofore underrepresented by those involved with developing and publishing ILAR’s Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals – wildlife professionals. The Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is widely applied to research conducted or funded by the federal government and is a suitable standard for biomedical research. However, it has little information relevant to wildlife research beyond general principles. It is crucial that scientists and researchers with experience working in the field are represented on the new committee and are able to offer their expertise and feedback on the committee tasks and deliberations. Four of the 13 standing committee’s members are involved in wildlife research; Dr. Bowerman is the sole ornithologist. 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!
  15. 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. Registered users of USFWS's ePermits system should have received an email letting them know that over the summer, the way they login to the ePermits system will change. All ePermits users will be required to set up a login.gov account. There's nothing you need to do now (although you can go ahead and set up your login.gov account if you'd like). More info will be coming from USFWS, and we will keep you informed here as the process moves forward. As always, members of all OC societies should feel free to contact the OC with permitting questions or problems. We're here to help! *** Notice from USFWS: Early this summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will launch a new, simplified login for ePermits through a partnership with Login.gov, an official service of the U.S. Federal Government. As a result of this change, all ePermits users must have an account with Login.gov using the same email address as your ePermits account. We are making this change to improve your ePermits experience. Login.gov offers simplified password requirements and additional authentication options, such as receiving your code via text message or phone call. For those interested in getting started with their Login.gov account, visit the following link for additional instructions. Please note that both the ePermits and Login.gov accounts will not be synced until the official launch. If you already have a Login.gov account using the same email address as your ePermits account, no further action is needed. We will post specific details about this change on the ePermits homepage in the coming weeks. *** 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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