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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 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. While the COVID pandemic may have canceled field seasons, moved conferences online, and caused many of us to shelter at homes for prolonged periods, the Ornithological Council has been busy over the past several months. This update will give you a sense of what we’ve been up to... Long-time Executive Director Ellen Paul retired in May and Laura Bies, formerly with The Wildlife Society, took her place. Now in a half-time position, Bies has been working to update the OC’s website, meet with key partners, and otherwise continue the important work that Paul had underway. Recently, OC staff has worked to update the permitting information on our website. We have also released an updated version of A Guide to the Permits and Procedures for Importing Bird Products into the United State for Scientific Research and Display. This extensive guide, which was thoroughly updated this year, provides a step-by-step guide for ornithologists who are importing birds or bird products into the U.S. for research and display, including template documents and checklists to follow. The Import Guide is available to download for free from the Ornithological Council’s website at BIRDNET.org, as a service to the ornithological community. We have also posted a number of articles on OrnithologyExchange recently, to keep ornithologists up to date on policy issues that may affect them. You can read them all in the ‘News From the Ornithological Council’ forum. If you have a question about a permitting or animal welfare issue, do not hesitate to reach out to the Ornithological Council. We’re available to help members of our ten societies navigate challenges with securing the necessary permits for their work or with gaining IACUC approval for their research. The Ornithological Council has recently faced financial challenges, related mostly to the withdrawal from the OC of the American Ornithological Society on July 1. While their exit has had large financial repercussions for the OC, we have adjusted staffing and the services we offer so that the OC can continue to serve the ornithological community. However, we still need your help. If you’d like to support our important work, please visit our website, BIRDNET.org, and scroll down to the ‘donate’ button at the bottom of the screen - or simply follow this link. We truly appreciate your contributions, as they allow us to continue to serve the ornithological community. 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 ten 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 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. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released a proposed policy document, “Research Involving Free-living Wild Species In Their Natural Habitat,” to assist research institutions in determining whether an activity involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat meets the regulatory definition of “field study.” The proposed policy describes criteria that research facilities could use to identify activities that are invasive, harmful, or that materially alter animal behavior. The proposed policy provides examples of activities that are and are not field studies. Under the policy, activities involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat that meet the definition of a field study and are not regulated under the Animal Welfare Act include: Activities that do not involve an invasive procedure and that do not harm or materially alter the behavior of an animal. Activities in which animals are temporarily held captive in a manner that does not harm or materially alter their behavior and the animals are subsequently released. Activities in which animal handling does not cause harm or physical or behavioral alterations that materially impair function. Procedures including handling, restraint, capture and containment that are not invasive and do not harm or materially alter the behavior of the study animal, such as but not limited to: ear tagging using routine methods (for most species), minimally invasive placement of microchips and radio collars, or collecting small samples of peripheral blood or tissues resulting in minimal impact to the animal. Activities involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat that do not meet the definition of “field study” and therefore must follow AWA requirements include: A study that involves an invasive procedure or that harms an animal, such as but not limited to: intra-cardiac blood collections arterial/venous cut downs surgical procedures Procedures designed to cause the death of an animal by methods other than those that meet the AWA regulatory definition for “euthanasia” Procedures that materially alter the behavior or impair the function of an animal under study, such as but not limited to: removing an animal’s digit that is necessary for digging/climbing partial amputation of an animal’s tail that is used for digging/climbing use of hormones or pheromones to change mating or migration patterns other than for wildlife management activities To read the full policy, click here. APHIS is accepting comments until 12 October, online or in writing to Docket No. APHIS-2020-0087, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. If you have feedback on the examples provided by APHIS in the proposed policy that could be useful to the Ornithological Council as we develop our comments on the proposal, please contact Laura Bies at laurabiesoc@gmail.com. Background: A 2017 report by the Government Accountability Office audit, entitled “Animal Use in Federal Research,” recommended that the provide research facilities with clear criteria for identifying field studies covered under the Animal Welfare Act regulations. The criteria would cover studies that facilities are required to include in the annual report of animal use submitted to APHIS, as well as studies that are not required to be reported. 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! Photo credit: Noah Kahn
  3. 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. From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Critical to Scientific Discovery and Innovation, Biological Collections Need Strategy, Action Center, and Increased Investment News Release | September 10, 2020 WASHINGTON — The sustainability of the nation’s biological collections is under threat, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Biological collections — living and natural history (non-living) specimens, biological materials, and data in museums, stock centers, research centers, and universities — need long-term financial sustainability, digitization, recruitment and support of a diverse workforce, and infrastructure upgrades in order to continue serving science and society. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century says these collections are a critical part of the nation’s science and innovation infrastructure and a fundamental resource for understanding the natural world. Without enhanced investments and strategic leadership, many small collections could be lost, and even large collections will face challenges in keeping their doors open to the scientific community and the public. “Many biological collections are at a critical juncture,” said James Collins, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report and Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at Arizona State University. “They are a cornerstone of research and education related to past and present life on Earth. Our study found that biological collections need increased investment to serve us in the way we expect, while at the same time expanding their potential for new uses related to science and society.” Shirley Pomponi, committee co-chair and research professor at Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, added, “Strategic planning, coordination, and knowledge-sharing are critical for the community of collections directors, managers, and curators as they work to meet complex needs of society and the scientific community.” Benefitting Science and Society Biological collections produce a wide range of benefits for the scientific community beyond the specimens they hold, the report says. Collections are important resources for education, both in formal training for the science and technology workforce, and in informal learning through schools, citizen science programs, and adult learning. Biological collections underpin many basic science discoveries and innovations. Research using biological collections, for example, has advanced our understanding of biodiversity loss, global change, human diseases — including Zika and COVID-19 — and has led to important biotechnology laboratory techniques, including CRISPR and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Securing Financial Sustainability The report says that sustained support will be paramount in keeping collections open, supporting their growth, and ensuring they are available for research. The needed investments in personnel, infrastructure, digitization, and other upgrades go beyond what annual budgets have historically covered. The National Science Foundation (NSF) should continue to provide stable, long-term funding for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades and expand its efforts to coordinate support with other funders. Individual collections should also explore new revenue streams, such as pay-for-use models, licensing systems, or charging for custom datasets, without creating costs that are prohibitive for researchers. Professional societies should collaborate to develop training for management and planning, and collection directors, curators, and managers should work with business strategists and communications experts to develop business models for financial sustainability and infrastructure. Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce The report says the workforce pipeline for biological collections is fundamentally different from the broader science workforce pipeline, and is poorly understood. Collections, host institutions, professional societies, and funders should collaborate to develop and strengthen the pipeline. The skill sets of collections managers and directors in particular should be broadened to include strategic leadership, fundraising and donor relations, personnel management, informal education, and public communication. Ensuring Access to Collections Making specimens and their data digitally accessible is one crucial component of achieving better access to collections. The report says that while the data that could be gathered and examined by digitizing biological collections are beyond current imagination in terms of size, quality, complexity, and value, gaps in support for digitization mean that collections data continue to be underused. The report recommends that the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences fund the development of a permanent national cyber infrastructure to connect all types of biological collections, partnering with other directorates within NSF and other federal agencies. National Strategy and Collaboration As the nation’s largest supporter of biological collections infrastructure and management, NSF has a particularly pivotal role to play, the report says. NSF should lead efforts to develop a national vision and strategy, such as a Decadal Survey, for the growth of biological collections, their infrastructure, and their ability to serve a range of scientific and educational needs. As part of its expanded support for biological collections, NSF should also help establish a permanent National Action Center for Biological Collections to coordinate action, knowledge, resources, and data-sharing. This action center should help the collections community develop strategic efforts and nurture research, education, workforce training, evaluation, and business model development. The directorate should expand its partnerships more broadly across NSF and other federal agencies to maximize investment in this effort, and help spread the cost of these major endeavors. The report also says professional societies and associations can help address infrastructure needs by sharing strategic resources and information across the biological collections community and by creating a national registry to document collections in the U.S. and assess their infrastructure needs. Collection leaders should also develop strategic plans outlining their individual infrastructure needs. The study — undertaken by the Committee on Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century — was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. Contact: Megan Lowry, Media Officer Office of News and Public Information 202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu 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!
  4. 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 Ornithological Council has released an updated version of A Guide to the Processes and Procedures for Importing Bird Products into the United State for Scientific Research and Display. This extensive guide, which was thoroughly updated this year, provides a step-by-step guide for ornithologists importing birds or bird products into the U.S. for research and display, including template documents and checklists to follow. The Import Guide is available to download for free from the Ornithological Council’s website at BIRDNET.org, as a service to the ornithological community. It contains sections on the import permitting requirements of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA APHIS, and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as information about planning your travel and how to ship your specimen. It leads the ornithologist through the entire process, from paperwork to port and beyond. In addition to the hard-and-fast rules and requirements, this guide also offers best practices and helpful hints. The guide will be updated regularly as agency permitting requirements change, keeping ornithologists in compliance with the many laws and regulations governing the import of bird products. If you have any questions after reading the Import Guide or find areas that require further clarification, please contact Laura Bies (laurabiesoc@gmail.com), Executive Director of the Ornithological Council. 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 ten 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. 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. FROM APHIS: Import Alert: HPAI restrictions for avian commodities originating from or transiting Australia Issuance Date: August 4, 2020 Effective date: July 24, 2020 Effective July 24, 2020, and until further notice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) is restricting the importation of poultry, commercial birds, ratites, avian hatching eggs, unprocessed avian products and byproducts, and certain fresh poultry products from Australia. Any of these commodities originating from or transiting through Australia are prohibited, based on the diagnosis of highly pathogenic avian influenza in domestic birds. Under these restrictions, processed avian products and byproducts originating from or transiting Australia imported as cargo must be accompanied by an APHIS import permit and/or government certification confirming that the products were treated according to APHIS requirements. Processed avian products and byproducts for personal use from or transiting through Australia which may enter in passenger baggage and does not have a thoroughly cooked appearance, or is not shelf-stable as a result of APHIS approved packaging and cooking (i.e. packaged in hermetically sealed containers and cooked by a commercial method after such packing to produce articles that are shelf stable without refrigeration), must also be accompanied by a APHIS import permit and/or government certification confirming that the products/byproducts were treated according to APHIS requirements. Unprocessed avian products and byproducts originating from or transiting through Australia will not be permitted to enter the United States. This includes hunter harvested, non-fully finished avian trophies and meat. Importation of poultry, commercial birds, ratites, and hatching eggs will be prohibited. However pet and zoo birds, pigeons and doves, may be imported under an APHIS import permit, and will be subject to a 30-day quarantine at the New York Animal Import Center in Newburgh, NY or the Miami Animal Import Center in Miami, FL. These restrictions will be updated as additional epidemiological information is obtained. Current information can be found on the APHIS website: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-and-animal-product-import- information/animal-and-animal-products-imports
  6. The board of the Ornithological Council is considering adopting a new policy that would restrict the assistance of the OC staff on permitting and animal welfare issues to those individuals who are members of the 10 societies that currently make up the Ornithological Council. This change is due to the withdrawal of financial support by the American Ornithological Society as of 1July 2020. Almost all funding for the Ornithological Council’s activities come from its member societies, with some coming from individual donors. The Ornithological Council (OC) was founded in 1992 as a non-profit organization by the American Ornithologists' Union, Association of Field Ornithologists, Cooper Ornithological Society, Pacific Seabird Group, Raptor Research Foundation, Waterbird Society, and Wilson Ornithological Society. The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (now BirdsCaribbean), Seccíon Mexicana del Consejo Internacional para la Preservacíon de las Aves (CIPAMEX), the Society of Canadian Ornithologists/Société des Ornithologistes du Canada, the Neotropical Ornithological Society, and the North American Crane Working Group have joined in recent years. The American Ornithologists’ Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society merged to form the American Ornithological Society in 2018 and then withdrew from the OC effective 1 July 2020. With the recent change in the OC’s funding, the Executive Director position has dropped from a full-time to a half-time position, and the organization is forced to consider this change in policy. For more information about this change, please visit: https://birdnet.org/oc-news/
  7. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a proposal to reduce the critical habitat designated for the northern spotted owl in Oregon by about 2% or 205,000 acres. Currently, 9.6 million acres are designated as northern spotted owl critical habitat in Oregon, Washington, and California. The change comes as a result of a settlement agreement between USFWS and the lumber industry, which challenged the agency’s 2012 critical habitat designation. The plaintiffs argued that the USFWS had unlawfully designated areas that were not northern spotted owl habitat and that the agency failed to consider the designation’s economic impacts. Earlier this year, the parties in that case reached an agreement requiring the USFWS to propose revisions to the northern spotted owl’s critical habitat by late December. The USFWS is accepting comments on the proposal until Oct. 13. Most of the 205,000 acres that will be removed from critical habitat are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and have been identified for commercial timber harvest under resource management plans. The northern spotted owl was first listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. USFWS initially designated 6.9 million acres of critical habitat for the owl in 1992, all on federal lands. The owl’s critical habitat was revised in 2003, 2008 and again in 2012.
  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. In late 2017, the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor issued a new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“the M Opinion”), which stated that the Act would no longer be applied to incidental take. In May 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Audubon Society, along with other environmental organizations, filed a lawsuit challenging the M Opinion. Later that year, eight States filed a similar lawsuit. These actions were consolidated into the one, which argued that the new interpretation of the M Opinion was contrary to the MBTA Yesterday, the district court agreed, finding that the M opinion “is contrary to the plain meaning of the MBTA and therefore must be vacated.” It is important to note that this decision only affects the M Opinion and not the proposed rule that Interior is in the process of finalizing. Also, the federal appeals courts remain split over whether incidental take is covered by the MBTA. BACKGROUND: Until this administration, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was interpreted to cover both intentional and unintentional take (harm or killing) of species covered by the Act. The USFWS under this administration developed a policy known as an M Opinion, which is internal agency policy, stating that the law does not prohibit incidental take of migratory bird species protected under the Act. In January, it released a regulatory proposal to codify that interpretation and in June it released the draft EIS for public comment. Read the Ornithological Council’s comments on the scoping notice and the draft environmental impact statement.
  9. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our ten 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! Your field work this season may have been affected by COVID but at some point we’ll all be able to get back out in the field. Make sure you have the permit info you need to be ready to get out there! The Ornithological Council has updated the information available on its website regarding permits. New information about Endangered Species Act and CITES permits has been posted and the pages for permit requirements for each of the 50 states in the U.S. have been updated. Check it out here!
  10. The following 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 released a proposed definition for “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act. The ESA defines “critical habitat” as “(i) the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed ... on which are found those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special management considerations or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed ..., upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.” Neither the regulations nor the Act itself define “habitat.” Until now, USFWS has applied the criteria from the definition of ‘‘critical habitat’’ and assumed that any area satisfying that definition was habitat. A recent Supreme Court decision held that an area must first be considered ‘‘habitat’’ in order for it to then meet the definition of ‘‘critical habitat’’ as defined by the Act. The new rule proposes to define “habitat” as “the physical places that individuals of a species depend upon to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species.” The proposal also includes an alternative definition: “the physical places that individuals of a species use to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas where individuals of the species do not presently exist but have the capacity to support such individuals, only where the necessary attributes to support the species presently exist.” USFWS is soliciting comments on both proposed definitions. Comments are due by September 4 and can be submitted electronically (click on the blue comment button). ******* USFWS PRESS RELEASE U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Propose Regulatory Definition of Habitat Under Endangered Species Act: Changes would improve clarity around description of habitat, address Supreme Court ruling July 31, 2020 Contact(s): Brian Hires, 703-358-2191, brian_hires@fws.gov The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have proposed a regulatory definition of the term “habitat” that would be used in the context of critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed definition is part of the efforts of the Trump Administration to balance effective, science-based conservation with common-sense policy designed to bring the ESA into the 21st century. “Our proposed definition of habit is intended to add more consistency to how the Service designates critical habitat under ESA,” said Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. “Improving how we apply this important tool will result in better conservation outcomes and provide more transparency for countless stakeholders such as private landowners, industry, and states.” “The Court’s ruling provides the Trump Administration and Secretary Bernhardt the opportunity to create a new definition that will help ensure that all areas considered for critical habitat first and foremost meet the definition of habitat. We are proposing these changes on behalf of improved conservation and transparency in our processes for designating critical habitat,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “We value public input, especially on actions that directly impact our many stakeholders which range from industries to private landowners.” Nearly three years ago, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce began considering improvements to the regulations the federal government uses to implement the ESA to make them more efficient and effective. Last year, the Service finalized regulatory changes to section 4 of the ESA dealing with the listing, delisting and critical habitat, and to section 7 consultation processes. Today’s proposed definition of habitat will continue to improve implementation of the ESA and will address a 2018 Supreme Court ruling in a case regarding dusky gopher frog critical habitat (Weyerhaeuser Co. v U.S. FWS) that any area designated as critical habitat must also be habitat for the species. The ESA defines critical habitat and establishes separate criteria depending on whether the area is within or outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing. It does not define the broader term “habitat,” however, and the Services have not previously defined this term in implementing regulations. Combined with last year’s regulatory reform, these actions will increase the clarity of the ESA, improve partnerships, stimulate more effective conservation on the ground, and improve consistency and predictability around critical habitat determinations. "Protecting, conserving and recovering endangered and threatened marine species and their habitat is a collaborative effort among federal, state, tribal and local officials, as well as non-governmental organizations and private citizens. For more than 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has enabled this collaboration. As such, we encourage our partners and the public to submit comments on this proposed action,” said Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator, NOAA Fisheries. As defined in the proposed rule, habitat contains food, water, cover or space that a species depends upon to carry out one or more of its life processes. This broad definition includes both occupied and unoccupied critical habitat. The proposed rule was sent to the Federal Register on July 31, 2020, and public comments will be accepted for 30 days upon its publication. The Service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.
  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 Ornithological Council submitted comments on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the draft Environmental Impact Statement that the Service prepared to analyze the effects of their proposal to no longer enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in cases of incidental take. Our comments conclude that the draft EIS is simply insufficient to assess the potential effects of the proposal. The EIS itself is relatively brief - only 69 pages, as opposed to the government-wide average of 586 pages. The analysis of the effects on migratory birds is only a few paragraphs. Understanding the effect of no longer prohibiting incidental take under the MBTA is obviously a huge task, requiring information about all the species protected under the Act. What the Service prepared comes no where close to achieving this. In its comments the OC recommended that the Service abandon this planning effort and begin again with a new document that is subject to peer review and which includes a path forward that involves best practices to prevent incidental take and cooperation between the Service and industry. BACKGROUND: Until this administration, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was interpreted to cover both intentional and unintentional take (harm or killing) of species covered by the Act. The USFWS under this administration developed a policy known as an M-Opinion, which is internal agency policy, stating that the law does not prohibit incidental take of migratory bird species protected under the Act. In January, it released a regulatory proposal to codify that interpretation and in June it released the draft EIS for public comment. OCComments-MBTA-IT-DEIS July 2020 FINAL.pdf
  12. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bird-Safe Building Act last week, as part of a larger infrastructure bill. The bipartisan bill is designed to reduce bird mortality by calling for federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features. Some federal building already incorporate bird-friendly design techniques; the Bird-Safe Building Act would require the government to apply similar measures, where practicable, to all new and existing federal buildings The infrastructure bill also included the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide about $1.4 billion to state, territorial and tribal wildlife agencies for the conservation of thousands of fish and wildlife species vulnerable to extinction. The infrastructure package now goes to the Senate, which is working on its own infrastructure legislation and therefore unlikely to pass the House version.
  13. AAALAC International, a private accreditation organization, announced that it will adopt the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition as an ‘AAALAC Reference Resource,’ with two clarifications: Clarification #1: These Guidelines were designed for use by members of the veterinary profession who carry out or oversee the euthanasia of animals. Euthanasia for scientific purposes is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). In these situations, “The IACUC[/OB] has mandatory veterinary input and considers animal welfare, requirements for postmortem tissue specimens, and interference of euthanasia agents or methods with study results.” Clarification #2: The Guidelines apply to methods of euthanasia which are strictly defined, such that “[w]hile some methods of slaughter and depopulation might meet the criteria for euthanasia identified by the Panel on Euthanasia (POE), others will not and comments in this document are limited to methods used for euthanasia.” With regard to free-ranging wildlife, the Guidelines acknowledge that “... the quickest and most humane means of terminating the life of free-ranging wildlife in a given situation may not always meet all criteria established for euthanasia (i.e., distinguishes between euthanasia and methods that are more accurately characterized as humane killing).” These limitations in application of the guidelines notwithstanding, AAALAC International emphasizes that death of animals for scientific purposes, including the method of death, is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). The OC was encouraged to see the second clarification and has contacted the Council to urge it to consider affirmatively accepting rapid cardiac compression, in addition to the more general statement in the clarification. Background: The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) earlier this year released the 2020 revision of its euthanasia guidelines, in which they failed to re-classify rapid cardiac compression. The OC has long argued, to the AVMA and to other organizations and group which rely on the AVMA guidelines, that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of rapid cardiac compression. The OC will continue to make sure other organizations are aware of the scientific justification for rapid cardiac compression.
  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. The USDA has reached an agreement with two organizations who sued over APHIS’s failure to issue animal welfare regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for birds not bred for use in research. That agreement, which was signed by the U.S. District Court judge in early June, calls for the agency to begin a rulemaking process within 90 days. Per the court order, USDA committed to: Ø publishing a notice for listening sessions by the end of August, to take place within one year of the date of the order Ø publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking within 18 months of publication of the notice of listening sessions Ø publishing a final rule within a year of the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking Ø submitting reports on their progress in promulgating the regulation every 90 days Background: Currently, USDA regulations exempt rats, mice, and birds from the Animal Welfare Regulations. After a lawsuit in 2000, the department agreed to change its regulations to include rats, mice, and birds. Before any regulations were promulgated, a provision in the 2002 Farm Bill codified the exclusion of rats, mice, and birds from AWA regulations. However, a typographical error in the bill means that only birds bred for use in research were excluded from AWA jurisdiction. In 2004, APHIS published an advance notice of public rulemaking, asking for public input about how to regulate the care and use of birds not bred for research. The agency never completed the rulemaking, and their failure to develop a rule led to the lawsuit by the Avian Welfare Coalition and the American Anti-Vivisection Society. The OC filed comments, in response to the 2004 notice of proposed rulemaking, suggested that given the number of wild bird species, the enormous variation among species, and the lack of experience and information pertaining to the keeping of most species in captivity that regulations would necessarily have to be very flexible and nonspecific. We also noted that inspection of field sites was unrealistic at best given that the USDA does not have enough inspectors, much less inspectors knowledgeable in field biology, to inspect field sites and that it would be unreasonable to expect wildlife biologists to bear the costs of such inspections. Any regulations promulgated by USDA may pertain only to birds studied in captivity, as existing regulations pertaining to other taxa cover topics such as housing, feeding, water, sanitation, transit, and handling. NOTE: The Ornithological Council believes strongly that birds, both wild and captive-bred, should be treated humanely, both in the laboratory and in research conducted in the wild. It is for this reason that we publish the peer-reviewed Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research. Our objection to the possible inclusion of birds in the Animal Welfare Act regulations is based solely on the fact that it is likely to impose additional burdens on research without producing an improvement in the humane treatment of birds, because, as explained above, this research is already regulated under the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, which makes the Animal Act applicable to all vertebrates. We object only to duplicative and potentially conflicting sets of regulations and burdensome procedural compliance, without contributing to the humane treatment of birds in research. UPDATE: Listening sessions announced From APHIS: The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will hold three virtual listening sessions to gather information to assist in the development of regulations that will ensure the humane care and treatment of birds not bred for use in research, consistent with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The virtual listening sessions will be held: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EDT; and Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The AWA authorizes the regulation of birds not bred for use in research and a January 2020 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion provided a timeline for APHIS to promulgate regulations and standards on their humane care and treatment. Before we propose regulations and standards for regulating such birds, we believe it is important to seek public input from stakeholders and other interested people. In order to develop regulations for birds that support both stakeholder needs and animal welfare, we will seek input on the following questions during each of the listening sessions: Are there appropriate performance-based standards we could establish across a wide variety of species of birds? Can we use classes of birds to set performance-based standards appropriate for the class? If so, what might these classes look like? How do bird breeders avoid interfering with nesting and breeding or other biological activities of birds? How can we ensure that housing, feeding, or inspection requirements do not interfere with these activities? Should we revise or add exemptions for certain dealers, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers of birds not bred for use in research? If so, what should those exemptions be? Please provide supporting data if possible. Are there thresholds beyond which an entity should not be required to be licensed? For example, we are aware that there are many entities who breed small numbers of birds; if we should exempt those entities, what exemption criteria should we use? Are there certain species which should be exempt? To register for the listening sessions and learn more about the comment process, please visit: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/aw-news/bird-listening-sessions.
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