November/December NewsBRIEF from the Ornithological Council

The Ornithological Council is pleased to provide this bimonthly report covering activities in November and December 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:

Submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, in response to the agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in early October. The agency is soliciting feedback on the development of a new permitting scheme for incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 

Attended the annual meeting of OC-member society CIPAMEX. Executive Director Laura Bies and OC Chair Gwen Brewer, along with one of CIPAMEX’s representatives to the OC, Paty Feria, gave a presentation about the OC and how CIPAMEX and the OC work together. Other OC societies who would like OC leadership to virtually attend one of their meetings or calls to talk about the OC’s work and answer member questions should contact Laura Bies (laurabiesoc@gmail.com). We’re always happy to talk about the work that the OC does and how we can help our member societies!

Continued to work with 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. 

Continued participation in planning an animal welfare workshop. OC Executive Director Laura Bies is currently participating in the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s workshop planning committee for a free virtual workshop to be held February 9-10 on “Discussing and Understanding Animal Welfare Challenges in Research and Education on Wildlife, Non-Model Animal Species, and Biodiversity.”  Please help spread the word about the upcoming workshop to your members! Contact Laura Bies (laurabiesoc@gmail.comif you need a blurb or summary to share or view the article on the workshop on OE. 

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 are being made available on BIRDNET.org 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. 

Provided direct individual assistance to ornithologists who belong to OC societies regarding how to obtain the permits necessary to complete their research. During September and October, assistance was provided to 1 individual. 

Posted articles and updates on the Ornithology Exchange regarding:

Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl proposed for ESA listing

USGS Winter 2021 HPAI Update

The OC submits comments on incidental take under the MBTA

USFWS increases Northern Spotted Owl habitat

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

The OC submits comments on incidental take under the MBTA

The Ornithological Council submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week, in response to the agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued in early October.

That notice solicited feedback on the development of a new permitting scheme for incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The USFWS is considering implementing a permitting system with (1) exceptions to the MBTA’s prohibition on incidental take; (2) general permits for certain activity types; and (3) specific or individual permits. The agency was seeking public comment on the appropriate criteria, such as infrastructure design, beneficial practices, andgeographic features, that it could use to apply these authorizations to various activities. The agency is also considering implementing a conservation fee structure to fund programs to benefit birds, and was soliciting input on whether it should consider a compensatory mitigation approach or a general conservation fee structure, where fees go to a specific, dedicated fund.

In the comments, the OC encouraged the development of a system of regulations for authorizing incidental take, noting that “the key value of the authorization concept is the potential to engage each industry as a whole and each corporation individually to promote meaningful, predictive research that will identify successful ways to reduce the level of incidental take and to identify compensatory mitigation that actually counteracts the level of take.” The letter went on to state that “there are currently significant gaps in our knowledge about the underlying causes of mortality associated with various activities and equally large gaps in our development and assessment of effective mitigation measures that need to be addressed,” and encouraged that agency to use the new permitting system as a way to begin filling those data gaps.

The comment period on the agency’s proposal to begin regulating inciodental take ended on December 3, the same day that  the final rule officially revoking the Trump administration’s regulation that interpreted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as only applying to intentional killing of birds went into effect.

We’re updating the Guide to the Use of Wild Birds in Research – and we need your help!

The Ornithological Council is working on a minor revision to the Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research. This foundational publication, now in its third edition, provides an in-depth guide to the animal welfare considerations when performing research involving wild birds, including ethical considerations and the legal framework that must be followed by researchers. Topics include investigator impact generally, collecting and trapping, marking, transport, housing and captive breeding, minor and major manipulative procedures, and euthanasia.

The last edition was published in 2010. The Ornithological Council is interested in compiling updated references from the last 10 years so we can include those in the next update. If you are aware of a methods paper relevant to a topic covered in the Guidelines, please submit the citation (and if you have it, a PDF of the paper or a link to it) to Laura Bies (laurabiesoc@gmail.com). Also submit papers that are not methods papers per se but assess the impact of the study methods.

We are still looking for volunteers to coordinate the literature reviews for the chapters below. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Laura Bies at laurabiesoc@gmail.com.

Chapter 3. Capture and Marking
Chapter 5. Captive Management

The 2010 edition of Guidelines is available here.

September-October NewsBRIEF

The Ornithological Council is pleased to provide this bimonthly report covering activities in September and October2021.

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:

Continued to work with 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 the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s new Standing Committee for the Care and Use of Animals in Research.

Continued participation in planning an animal welfare workshop. OC Executive Director Laura Bies is currently participating in the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s workshop planning committee for a workshop to be held February 9-10 on “Discussing and Understanding Animal Welfare Challenges in Research and Education on Wildlife, Non-Model Animal Species, and Biodiversity.”

Met with the staff of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to discuss their new online permit system and provide feedback on a test version of the website.

Participated in a quarterly meeting with Bird Banding Lab staff, to discuss issues of mutual interest.

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 are being made available on BIRDNET.org 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.

Provided direct individual assistance to ornithologists who belong to OC societies regarding how to obtain the permits necessary to complete their research. During September and October, assistance was provided to 3 individuals.

Posted articles and updates on the Ornithology Exchange regarding:

Dick Banks, OC founder, dies at 90

Williams nominated as USFWS director

USFWS to hold webinars about MBTA incidental take

USFWS proposes delisting several bird species due to extinction

OC working with National Academies on animal welfare workshop

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers streamlining permits for incidental take of eagles

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

OC working with National Academies on animal welfare workshop

Ornithological Council Executive Director Laura Bies has been selected to participate in a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s workshop planning committee for a workshop to be held in early 2022 on “Discussing and Understanding Animal Welfare Challenges in Research and Education on Wildlife, Non-Model Animal Species, and Biodiversity.”

The workshop will discuss the animal welfare challenges inherent in wildlife research, and will help inform the next edition of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research’s Guide for the Care and Use of Animals in Research, one of the primary guidance documents for researcher involving animals. That revision is being led by a new ILAR Standing Committee for the Care and Use of Animals in Research. Dr. William Bowerman, current Vice Chair of the Ornithological Council, is one of 13 members of that standing committee, which is exploring expanding the current guidelines for humane care and use of animals both in traditional “brick-and-mortar” laboratory animal facilities and beyond (e.g., field laboratories and field stations, and terrestrial and aquatic settings under both captive and natural conditions).

The workshop will be held virtually on February 9-10 and will include presentations and panel discussions exploring topics and questions such as:

• enhancing veterinary and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expertise on the health and welfare of wildlife and biologically diverse vertebrate animal species;

ways to improve the development and evaluation of IACUC protocols on research studies involving wildlife and biologically diverse vertebrate animal species interactions in captive and diverse natural environmental settings;

• the bioethics associated with fieldwork practices and unique considerations for wildlife and biologically diverse vertebrate animal species;

• the regulatory and management challenges associated with wildlife research; and

· the opportunities for enhancing collaborations between IACUCs and researchers studying wildlife;

More information about the workshop is available here.