OC NewsBRIEF Oct-Nov 2017

In this time period, the Ornithological Council:

1. Sent individual e-mails to every member of the U.S.-based societies to alert them to proposals in the pending tax legislation that would be detrimental to graduate students and to universities and colleges. We also posted an article on OrnithologyExchange, sent notices to AVECOL, asked that the article be posted on the PSG listserve and sent to Waterbird Society members via e-mail blast, and asked AOS to post the article on the AOS Facebook page and the AOS twitter feed.

2. Wrote and posted an article on OrnithologyExchange explaining pending legislation that could weaken protection of species listed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The article was sent to the AOS Conservation Committee chair and the social media manager for dissemination through AOS social media and to the PSG listserve.

3. Asked DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke and other DOI officials to increase staffing levels for the permits office of the Division of Migratory Bird Management, which now has only one staffer in the headquarters office, doing the job of at least three people. We also requested allocation of funding for development of an online permit application and reporting system.

4.  Executive Director Ellen Paul met with officials in the USFWS Division of Migratory Bird Management to discuss permit conditions, including euthanasia, authorization by permittee to allow others to use permit, and post-import possession. Also discussed: resolution of order of issuance of federal permits vs. state permits (a problem that was actually resolved 18 years ago but that has re-emerged). That last problem was resolved within 24 hours of the meeting and DMBM staff indicated that they would likely accede to the other requests as well.

5. OC Executive Director Ellen Paul was a panelist in three panel presentations and three break-out group discussions for the 2017 conference of the Scientists’ Center for Animal Welfare titled Meeting the Challenges of IACUC Oversight in Fish and Wildlife Research, held in San Diego in late October.

6. OC Executive Director Ellen Paul presented a paper at the Second International Bird Observatory Conference in Cape May, NJ, on Saturday, October 28. The talk focused on the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and how and when it might (or might not) apply to bird observatories.

7. Assisted the following individuals with permit questions/problems: James Mouton, Andy Jones, Jennifer Arnold, Maren Vitousek and Dan Ardia (continuing since prior report, now resolved!), Jeff White and Herman Mays, Aislinn Johns, Pamela Horsley, Phil Grayson, Pete Marra, Cindy Opitz, Becky Desjardins and Brian O’Shea, David Bird and Joan Morrison.

8. Assisted the following individuals with IACUC/animal welfare questions/problems: Amber Rice, Pam Broussard (attending veterinarian, U. Montana).

9. Revised the OC Fact Sheet on rapid cardiac compression, consistent with the recently published study, and distributed same to ornithologists, veterinarians, and IACUC chairs and members.

10. In response to a request from an attorney involved in the Christine Lattin matter, OC identified subject-matter experts in animal welfare compliance, avian pain perception, and the type of questions Lattin is studying. We were later informed that the attorney has decided against obtaining expert reviews at this time.

11. Administrative: Completed annual 990s, continued work on new website, updating permits content (starting with state permits info). We hope to have the new website completed by mid-December.

UPDATES FROM PRIOR OC newsBRIEF:

ACTION: Asked the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Dept of the Interior Office of Policy, Management, and Budget to re-instate the regulatory processes for the conservation education permits (which included citizen salvage) and CITES (which includes the OC petition to suspend or eliminate a problematic import requirement). OUTCOME: OC received a response stating that the CITES regulatory action would be reinstated and the petition would be considered in the process.

The OC bimonthly newsBRIEF (Aug-Sept 2017)

It has come to our attention that the annual reports we submit to the OC member societies are not effective at helping society leadership and members to understand what the OC does. Therefore, we are shifting to this bi-monthly e-mail report and we promise – it will be BRIEF. We will omit all but the most essential information and ask that those who have questions contact us.

In this time period, the Ornithological Council:

  1. Submitted letters of support for Christine Lattin, Ph.D, a post-doc at Yale and AOS grantee, who is being harassed by PETA. That organization is attempting to persuade her funders to terminate funding. The OC letters were submitted to Yale, the Life Sciences Resource Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Another letter was sent to the Massachusetts District Attorney, offering to organize an independent expert review should that office decide to act on the complaint filed by PETA.
  2. Re-filed a petition to the USFWS to suspend or revoke the requirement for “validation” of CITES permits at the time of export. The original petition was filed in 2014 and was to have been addressed in a regulatory update in 2017. The Administration canceled that regulatory update so the petition has been amended and re-filed. The OC also wrote directly to the White House Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and to the Secretary of the Interior, asking that the USFWS be directed to respond to the petition in a timely manner.
  3. Filed a petition to Customs and Border Protection, seeking a “binding ruling” that hand-carried specimens and samples are not subject to the “formal entry” requirements that are expensive and burdensome for ornithologists.
  4. Met with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service associate director to discuss the development of “guidance” by that agency, pertaining to key issues in animal welfare, without discussion with the regulated community (wildlife biologists) or consultation with experts. That led to a meeting with agency staff who agreed to refrain from issuing guidance on the term “field study” without first consulting experts and the regulated community. That discussion is ongoing.
  5. Asked the American Veterinary Medical Association to reclassify rapid cardiac compression as acceptable or acceptable with conditions. The study that is the scientific foundation for this request was funded by the AOS. The letter was reviewed by several research veterinarians.
  6. Drafted a letter to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior regarding the legality of drone use; sent out for peer review to David Bird and other ornithologists and colleagues in The Wildlife Society.
  7. Drafted an addendum to Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research regarding drone use; sent out for peer review.
  8. Continued work with USDA’s research program and import-export program to encourage the reduction or complete removal of pre-import treatment requirements for avian research material.
  9. Asked the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Dept of the Interior Office of Policy, Management, and Budget to re-instate the regulatory processes for the conservation education permits (which included citizen salvage) and CITES (which includes the OC petition to suspend or eliminate a problematic import requirement)
  10. Consulted with the USFWS Division of Management Authority and the Jamaican National Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Jamaican law pertaining to export of avian specimens and samples that conflicts with CITES and U.S. law and procedure.
  11. Completed and submitted a third set of comments on proposed regulatory changes for permits issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (after consultation with ornithologists who work in California).
  12. Prepared for three panel presentations and three break-out group discussions for the 2017 conference of the Scientists’ Center for Animal Welfare titled Meeting the Challenges of IACUC Oversight in Fish and Wildlife Research. The conference will be held in San Diego in late October.
  13. Assisted 11 individuals with permit questions/problems (names omitted; they appear in the reports submitted to society leadership).
  14. Assisted two individuals with IACUC/animal welfare questions/problems ((names omitted; they appear in the reports submitted to society leadership).

Ellen Paul
Executive Director
Ornithological Council
Providing Scientific Information about Birds