The Ornithological Council (OC) has provided the ornithological community with individualized expert advice regarding permitting and animal welfare issues for more than 25 years. However, due to financial constraints imposed by a change in society membership in the OC, the OC Board is considering adopting a new policy that would restrict the assistance of the OC staff on permitting and animal welfare issues to only those individuals who are members of the 10 societies that make up the OC. This change is due to the withdrawal of financial support by the American Ornithological Society as of July 1, 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 organization’s resources are extremely strained. The Executive Director position has moved from a full-time to a half-time position and the OC Board is forced to consider this change in policy. Under the new policy, the OC staff would only be able to offer individualized, expert advice on permitting and animal welfare issues to individuals who are members of one of the OC member societies. This will allow the OC to continue to provide resources and services for the ornithologists who support the professional societies who in turn support the OC. Advice will be provided to individuals who are not members of an OC society only in cases of demonstrated financial hardship.
We realize that many members of the ornithological community are members of just the American Ornithological Society and not other OC member societies, and therefore they will not be eligible for assistance from the OC. While the OC offers valuable resources to the ornithological community as a whole and to the public for free, making all services free without restriction is not sustainable.
If this proposed change in policy means that you will no longer be able to take advantage of the OC’s expertise and you feel this will be a detriment to you professionally, please consider reaching out to AOS directly and explaining the value of the OC to you and the ornithological community. You might also consider becoming a member of an OC member society.