May-June NewsBRIEF

The Ornithological Council is pleased to provide this bimonthly report covering activities in May and June 2021. The Ornithological Council’s mission is to: 

  • Ensure that the best ornithological science is incorporated into legislative, regulatory, and management decisions that affect birds;

  • Enhance the ability of ornithologists to pursue professional activities; and

  • Promote the influence of ornithology in public affairs.

Our work focuses on animal welfare issues, permits, research funding, and other policies that affect ornithologists and ornithological societies. We greatly appreciate your support. Please contact our Executive Director with questions or concerns about this report or about any other matter of concern to your society or your society’s members. 

In this time period, the Ornithological Council:

1. Submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its revocation of the controversial Trump-era rule that changed the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to no longer apply to incidental take. 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. 

2. Contacted the Director of the Division of Select Agents and Toxins in the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response regarding concerns the OC has about the CDC’s requirements for certification and treatment of imports, after not receiving a response to our December inquiry. 

3. Secured representation for the ornithological community on a new National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine committee. Dr. William Bowerman, current Vice Chair of the Ornithological Council, was appointed as one of 13 members of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s new Standing Committee for the Care and Use of Animals in Research. 

4. Attended virtual briefings by the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey on their proposed budgets for the 2022 Fiscal Year. While the OC does not engage heavily on appropriations issues, these briefings offer helpful insight into agency and departmental priorities for the coming year.

5. Launched a survey, in cooperation with the co-chairs of the American Ornithological Society’s Collections Committee, to gain insight into the current and recent permits for import under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service is in the process of changing the issuance of those permits, and will no longer permit ‘blanket’ import permits, instead requiring that all import permits list specific dates, species and numbers. We are conducting the survey in preparation for an upcoming meeting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Office staff. 

6. Continued work on our update of the Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research. We are currently in the process of reviewing the literature for new papers published since the 2010 publication of the current edition. New reference lists for each chapter will be made available on once completed, and once all chapter updates have been completed, a new PDF of the Guidelines with the new references will be compiled and posted online. 

7. Posted articles and updates on the Ornithology Exchange regarding:

Critical habitat designated for Yellow-billed Cuckoo

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces proposal to revoke MBTA rule

Draft recovery plan released for Rufa Red Knot

OC expresses concerns to CDC over import policy

Changes coming to USFWS ePermits login

OC Vice Chair William Bowerman named to ILAR committee

Biden administration releases budget proposal

The OC submits additional comments on the MBTA

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing Lesser Prairie Chicken

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases Birds of Conservation Concern report

Help the OC help ornithologists with MBTA permits: fill out our survey

More information on USFWS ePermits login changes

All these updates, and more, are always available on the ‘News From the OC’ forum on Ornithological Exchange.