Here’s the latest from the American Bird Conservancy.
1. Invitation to Join the Cats Indoors Listserv
Grant Sizemore, the new Cats Indoors Program Officer at American Bird Conservancy, invites you to join ABC and work on a crucial frontier of wildlife conservation: the impacts of feral and free-ranging domestic cats.
The Cats Indoors listserv is an excellent resource for cat-related news, updates, and action alerts. We hope that you will support ABC’s efforts to reduce the negative impacts of feral and free-ranging cats by subscribing to the Cats Indoors listserv today.
To join the listserv, send an email to email@example.com with subscribe written in the subject line or body of text. Please contact Grant Sizemore with questions, comments, or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. New Study Finds Pesticides Leading Cause of Grassland Bird Declines
A new study led by a preeminent Canadian toxicologist identifies acutely toxic pesticides as the most likely leading cause of the widespread decline in grassland bird numbers in the United States. The scientific assessment, which looked at data over a 23-year period – from 1980 to 2003 – was published on February 20, 2013 in PLOS One, an online peer-reviewed scientific journal. The study was conducted by Dr. Pierre Mineau, recently retired from Environment Canada, and Mélanie Whiteside of Health Canada.
The study looked at five potential causes of grassland bird declines besides lethal pesticide risk: change in cropped pasture such as hay or alfalfa production, farming intensity or the proportion of agricultural land that is actively cropped, herbicide use, overall insecticide use, and change in permanent pasture and rangeland.
“What this study suggests is that we need to start paying a lot more attention to the use of pesticides if we want to reverse, halt or simply slow the very significant downward trend in grassland bird populations. Our study put the spotlight on acutely toxic insecticides used in our cropland starting after the Second World War and persisting to this day – albeit at a lower level. The data suggest that loss of birds in agricultural fields is more than an unfortunate consequence of pest control; it may drive bird populations to local extinction,” Mineau said.
3. Groups Challenge Proposed EPA Approval of Dangerous New Pesticide
Eight national non-profit organizations concerned with the environment, food safety, children’s health, bee and bird conservation, and pesticide management, sent two letters February 12 calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to halt the approval process for a new insecticide called Sulfoxaflor that would be used on various vegetables, fruits, soybeans, wheat and turfgrass.
“The combination of water solubility, persistence, and toxicity (especially to bees and pollinators) is particularly concerning because compounds with these same characteristics have shown adverse effects to non-target species,” said the letter from the Center for Food Safety, the Pesticide Action Network, American Bird Conservancy and Friends of the Earth.
The two letters were sent to EPA in response to the agency’s January 14 proposed “conditional registration” of the new insecticide. Sulfoxaflor is characterized by its long environmental persistence (over a year in some conditions) and by its high potential for surface and ground water contamination. The groups cited Sulfoxaflor’s toxicity to honey bees and to saltwater invertebrates, as well as concerns with respect to birds and other organisms.
“Sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to honey bees according to EPA’s ecological assessment, and there are still unanswered toxicological data gaps regarding honey bees …… Given the global phenomenon of bee decline and the recent precautions taken in the European Union regarding bee health with the suspension of certain neonicotinoid pesticides known to elicit adverse reactions in bees, it is irresponsible that the [EPA] would allow yet another chemical with a high potential to be hazardous to bee health into the environment,” said the second letter, signed by the groups Beyond Pesticides, American Beekeeping Federation, American Bird Conservancy, Boulder Innovative Technologies and the California Minnesota Honey Farms.
4. Review by New DOI Secretary Urged for Revised Rule Weakening Eagle Protections for Wind Industry
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) called on the agency to suspend further consideration of a revised rule that would weaken protections provided to eagles pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, by allowing private companies to apply for an unprecedented 30-year permit to kill these iconic species. ABC instead called for the rule to be shelved until Sally Jewell, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Interior, has had time to fully review the proposal and evaluate its potential long-term impacts on eagle populations.
“The public places a high value on both Bald and Golden Eagles, two species that have inspired awe, pride, and patriotism in America’s citizens for generations. The Bald Eagle is America’s national symbol and was only removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Thus, this important and highly controversial decision should not be made without the full participation and careful consideration of the new Secretary of the Interior,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy.
The new, far weaker, version of the eagle protection rule was drafted after requests from the wind energy industry, and represents a curious reversal of a FWS decision in 2009. At that time the USFWS wrote, “…the rule limits permit tenure to five years or less because factors may change over a longer period of time such that a take authorized much earlier would later be incompatible with the preservation of the Bald Eagle or the Golden Eagle.”
5. Millerbird Translocation Success & Additional Bird Conservation Videos
Check out American Bird Conservancy’s YouTube channel that includes amazing footage of spectacular birds, news reports, and presentations by staff experts. The latest news report is about the successful translocation of the endangered Millerbird to a second Hawaiian Island.
Millerbird Translocation Success: http://youtu.be/8wE5gWikzS0
To be removed from the list, send any message to:
Senior Policy Advisor
American Bird Conservancy &
Director, Bird Conservation Alliance
202-234-7181 ext. 216