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USDA APHIS, Wildlife Services Honored with Presidential Award for
Migratory Bird Stewardship
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is this year’s recipient of the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award, in recognition of the Wildlife Services’ management of raptor-human conflicts to promote safety and migratory bird conservation. The Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and composed of many federal agencies with migratory bird responsibilities, chose the 2014 winner of the Presidential award.
USDA’s Wildlife Services has conducted a national effort with the goal of reducing human-wildlife conflicts associated with raptors, or birds of prey, over the past 10 years. These include many species of conservation concern including bald eagles, Peregrine falcons, and ferruginous hawks. Conducted across the country, this large, complex program included both operational activities carried out by Wildlife Services state offices and a research component undertaken by its National Wildlife Research Center. Many of the raptor-human conflict management issues involved the high profile human health and safety issue of collisions between birds and aircraft.
During 2004-2013, more than 13,700 individual raptors, representing at least 32 different species, were successfully live-trapped and relocated away from the environment where the conflict was occurring and where the birds themselves and other resources were at risk, such as an airport. About 5 percent (more than 650 individual birds), were species of concern such as short-eared owls, golden eagles, and Mississippi kites.
“It is gratifying that this Council of concerned federal agencies has recognized Wildlife Services’ efforts and commitment to safeguarding migratory bird conservation while conducting its assigned mission to safeguard resources,” said William Clay, Deputy Administrator of Wildlife Services. “This important program exemplifies the Agency’s efforts to resolve human health and safety issues and further the conservation of our nation’s natural resources, especially migratory birds, through science-based management efforts and cutting edge research in the Wildlife Services program.”
Research was an essential component of the effort that contributed to migratory bird conservation. Although study findings have been used predominantly to reduce bird-aircraft strikes at civil and military airfields, the information and innovative methods are being used to evaluate and manage other human-raptor conflict situations, such as wind energy facility development. Numerous research projects were conducted throughout the country using both traditional bird-banding and cutting-edge satellite telemetry technologies. These provided critical information needed: to increase the effectiveness of the raptor relocation used to resolve conflict situations; to identify patterns on how some raptors use airports, allowing better risk analysis; and to quantify the risk that migrating raptors pose to military training flights. This research also provided new and important ecological information on the breeding, migration, and wintering ecology of various raptors.
The Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds, which is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, includes representation from the Departments of the Interior, State, Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation, Energy, Defense, and the Environmental Protection Agency and is open to all Federal agencies whose activities may directly or indirectly affect migratory bird populations. (For Council and award information see http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/CCMBA.html ). The award was created to recognize significant contributions to the implementation of Presidential Executive Order 13186, which created the Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues.
For more information about raptor research and other NWRC aviation project, see the NWRC Aviation Projects page.
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