Displaying items by tag: ABC

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission declares the Marbled Murrelet Endangered

   
 
 

Washington, D.C., July 9, 2021) Oregon joined Washington and California to protect Marbled Murrelets as Endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4 to 3 to reclassify the murrelet from Threatened to Endangered. These protections come at a critical time for this species, which depends on marine areas for feeding and old-growth forest for nesting. Both of its habitats face uncertain futures with respect to the impact of climate change.  

“We are relieved the Commission has voted in favor of uplisting the Marbled Murrelet to Endangered status,” says Jennifer Davis, ABC’s Northwestern Regional Director. “This elusive species is extremely vulnerable to a host of threats, and without additional protections, it is at real risk of irreversible decline. We thank the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for this vote in favor of the murrelet.”

The Marbled Murrelet is Federally listed as Threatened, but this state declaration will provide much needed additional protections on Oregon State lands.

ABC will continue to work with partners and stakeholders in the region to ensure that this species is able to persist in the Pacific Northwest for generations to come.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).   

 

Expeditions Planned This Year Will Help Scientists Learn More About the Species

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A black-browed babbler accidentally caught in Kalimantan, Borneo. It was the first confirmed sighting of the species in more than 170 years. The bird was released unharmed back to the forest after the photo was taken. Photo courtesy of Birdpacker

(Washington, D.C., February 25, 2021) After more than 170 years, locals in Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia, have helped rediscover the lost Black-browed Babbler. The bird has been missing since it was first described and collected by scientists around 1848. Since then, the trail to find the Black-browed Babbler has gone cold, despite several attempts to find it, leaving scientists in the dark about its ecology, population, and behavior. Many feared the species might have been extinct. The rediscovery was published in Oriental Bird Club’s journal BirdingASIA today, Feb. 25.

“Globally, there are more than 150 bird species that are currently ‘lost,’ with no confirmed observations in the past 10 years,” said John C. Mittermeier, Director of Threatened Species Outreach at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “ABC, Global Wildlife Conservation, BirdLife International, and eBird are working together to help find these species. Hopefully, the rediscovery of the Black-browed Babbler will spark interest in finding other lost bird species in Asia and around the world.”

Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan rediscovered the elusive Black-browed Babbler in October 2020 during a weekly trip to gather forest products in Southern Kalimantan Province, Borneo. After accidentally capturing a bird, which neither recognized, they took some photos and then released it unharmed back to the forest. They sent the photos to the local birdwatching group BW Galeatus in hopes that they would be able to identify it.

The group suspected it might be the Black-browed Babbler, and immediately contacted ornithologists Panji Gusti Akbar, Teguh Willy Nugroho, and Ding Li Yong, who compared the photos taken in southern Kalimantan to a current field guide description and photos of the only known specimen of the species, at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands.

“It was a bit like a ‘Eureka!’ moment,” said Gusti Akbar, of the Indonesian bird conservation group Birdpacker and lead author of the paper. “This bird is often called ‘the biggest enigma in Indonesian ornithology.’ It’s mind-blowing to think that it’s not extinct and it’s still living in these lowland forests, but it’s also a little scary because we don’t know if the birds are safe or how much longer they may survive.”

The new photos of a live Black-browed Babbler immediately yielded new information about the species. Scientists now have a better understanding of the species’ true coloration. The babbler’s iris, bill, and legs were slightly different colors than that of the original specimen, but the difference was not surprising to scientists, since those areas often lose their tint and are artificially colored during the taxidermy process. 

The rediscovery is helping scientists and conservationists answer questions that have been swirling for more than a century. Scientists had never been sure where the bird lived in the wild. The original and only specimen collected by German geologist and naturalist Carl A.L.M. Schwaner between 1843 and 1848, and described by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1850, was initially mislabeled and described as being from Java. In 1895, naturalist Johann Büttikofer found that the specimen could not have been from Java because Schwaner had not collected any birds on the island. After reviewing and scrutinizing records of Schwaner’s travel in Indonesia, scientists speculated that he may have found the bird near the city of Martapura or Banjarmasin in Borneo.

“I think it is amazing that we managed to document one of the most remarkable zoological discoveries in Indonesia, largely through online communication, in the midst of the pandemic, which has hampered us from visiting the site,” said Teguh Willy Nugroho, who works in Sebangau National Park in Kalimantan and is one of the coauthors on the paper.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, scientists have not been able to travel to the area where the Black-browed Babbler was found, but they are working on a second paper to document its ecology and are hoping to work with local government agencies to plan expeditions later this year.

“When the species was first discovered, now-extinct birds like the Great Auk and Passenger Pigeon were still alive,” said Yong, a co-author on the paper and a Singapore-based conservationist with BirdLife International. “There is now a critical window of opportunity for conservationists to secure these forests to protect the babbler and other species.”

Scientists know very little about the Black-browed Babbler, but the Indonesian authors of the paper are hoping to work with local government agencies to quickly change that. They plan to travel to Borneo to identify exactly where the species lives, interview locals, study the babbler’s behavior, and assess the population — information that could be used to recommend a new status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The bird is currently listed as Data Deficient and scientists are hoping to determine if and to what extent the species is threatened with extinction.

“Discoveries like this are incredible and give us so much hope that it’s possible to find other species that have been lost to science for decades or longer,” said Barney Long, Global Wildlife Conservation’s (GWC’s) Senior Director of Species Conservation and a lead on GWC’s Search for Lost Species program. “Collaborations between conservationists, local communities, and Indigenous peoples are crucial to learning about and saving these elusive species.”

There are more than 1,600 species of birds that live across the Indonesian archipelago. Scientists are hoping that the discovery may rekindle interest in surveying birds in under-researched areas. GWC and ABC, BirdLife International, and eBird are working to mount searches for lost birds around the world.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).   

Global Wildlife Conservation conserves the diversity of life on Earth by safeguarding wildlands, protecting wildlife and supporting guardians. We maximize our impact through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery, and conservation leadership cultivation. Learn more at https://globalwildlife.org

Lawsuit Filed to Restore Bird Protections

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Kentucky Warblers are among the hundreds of bird species that benefit from a strong Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Photo by Frode Jacobsen

(Washington, D.C., January 19, 2021) A coalition of national environmental groups filed litigation (Case Number: 1:21-cv-00448) today challenging the current Administration's move to eliminate longstanding protections for waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The litigants include American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The move challenges a new rule by the outgoing Administration that greatly weakens essential protections provided by the MBTA. This rule comes at a time when scientists have raised alarm over the loss of 3 billion North American birds during the past 50 years. It would end enforcement against “incidental take” of birds ― the predictable and preventable killing of birds by industrial practices. The Administration seeks to codify this in spite of the fact that last August, a federal judge struck down this opinion.

“We urge President-elect Biden to quickly eliminate this threat to migratory birds and act to establish a permitting system to reduce preventable mortality,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Government Relations for American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “Congress can support this effort by passing the Migratory Bird Protection Act.

“Last fall, a federal court overturned the Administration’s reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that ended decades of enforcement and let industry off the hook for killing birds,” said Holmer. “Today’s lawsuit challenges a federal rule based on the same bad reasoning.”

The outgoing Administration continues to argue that the law applies only to the intentional killing of birds and not “incidental” killing from industrial activities activities that kill millions of birds every year, such as oil spills and electrocutions on power lines. This reinterpretation was first put in place in December 2017 through a legal opinion from the Interior Department.

Citing To Kill a Mockingbird, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni wrote that “if the Department of the Interior has its way, many Mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence.” In rejecting the Administration’s opinion, the court noted that the MBTA makes it unlawful to kill birds “by any means whatever or in any manner” — thus the Administration's interpretation violates the plain language of the statute.

“Implementation of this rule will result in the needless killing of birds at a time when many bird species desperately need our help,” said ABC President Mike Parr. “It’s always our preference to solve problems without lawsuits, but the egregious nature of this rule requires nothing less.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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A new federal rule filed today exempts one-third of the imperiled Northern Spotted Owl’s habitat from ESA protections. Photo by Chris Warren

(Washington, D.C., January 13, 2021) The current Administration today filed a new Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat rule that has the potential to hasten the extinction of this declining subspecies. A revision of the critical habitat designation for the Northern Spotted Owl under the Endangered Species Act, the rule originally proposed to exempt only about 200,000 acres from critical habitat protections. However, the final rule instead exempts 3.4 million acres — a huge expanse of territory totaling about one-third of the owl’s protected habitat.
 
The Northern Spotted Owl inhabits only northern California and the Pacific Northwest. This decision comes on the heels of a determination that the owl is already moving toward extinction, even before this loss of habitat protection.

“This rule poses a severe threat to the Northern Spotted Owl and another threatened bird depending on old-growth foreststhe Marbled Murrelet,” said Steve Holmer of American Bird Conservancy. “Just last month, federal scientists concluded that the rapidly declining population of Northern Spotted Owl should have its status changed from Threatened to Endangered. Instead, this new rule puts the owl at even greater risk.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

(Washington, D.C., May 22, 2020)

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved the Icebreaker Wind Energy Project yesterday, with conditions, moving the country’s first freshwater wind development closer to construction. Stipulations have been made to protect birds in this critical area for migratory species, including turning off the turbines at night for eight months of the year, but conservationists are concerned that these measures are changeable and may not hold long-term.

“The developers and their supporters have been determined to build this project regardless of the overwhelming evidence that for migratory birds, this is among the worst places in North America to place wind turbines,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). “The proponents of Icebreaker have consistently demonstrated a callous disregard for science, and the project, whose financial basis is experimental at best, may mostly be remembered as a monument of death for birds.” 

“The decision requires that the original Avian and Bat Memorandum of Understanding and Stipulations to the Application remain in effect, including turning the turbines off at night for eight months of the year,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “It’s positive that these have been upheld and must be complied with before construction can begin. However, we’re concerned that the stipulations can be reversed in the future.”

It is currently unclear whether the stipulations made by the OPSB will prove to be sufficient to cause the developer to withdraw the project. In addition, a lawsuit brought by BSBO and ABC against the Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers, for failing to adhere to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act when awarding a $40M grant to Icebreaker Wind, could still halt the project.

Icebreaker would be a precedent-setting wind energy facility in Lake Erie, offshore of Cleveland, Ohio. Turbines in the proposed project site would pose substantial collision risks to the enormous numbers of birds that use the area throughout the year, including large concentrations of migrating songbirds, as well as Common Loons, globally significant populations of Red-breasted Mergansers, and other waterfowl. Further, construction and increased vessel traffic associated with the project could pollute the waters used by these species.

“Icebreaker is a demonstration project,” said Kaufman. “Its review and approval will be considered the benchmark for hundreds, possibly thousands, of additional turbines expected to be proposed for the Great Lakes over the coming decades.”

Radar studies conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have recorded large numbers of migratory birds and bats near Great Lakes shorelines, including Lake Erie's south shore. Many were flying at altitudes that would be within the rotor-swept area of wind turbines, making these birds susceptible to collision-related deaths, injuries, and disturbance.

“We need renewable energy development to combat the effects of climate change, but it needs to be done right and there are better alternatives such as distributed solar right in Cleveland,” said Holmer. “We must ensure that we're not creating new problems in the process by building turbines in high-risk areas for birds.”

American Bird Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory are being represented in the lawsuit referred to above by the public interest environmental law firm Eubanks & Associates, LLC.

ABC thanks the Leon Levy Foundation for its support of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).   

Black Swamp Bird Observatory is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit whose mission is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education, and outreach.

(Washington, D.C., May 11, 2020) When the New York State Legislature finalized the state budget, it included the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The Act seeks to streamline the approval process for wind and solar energy projects as part of the State’s approach to achieving its renewable energy goals. While it does have some positive elements for wildlife, such as seeking to site projects on degraded lands and creating a bird impact mitigation fund, the Act also fast-tracks facets of renewable energy planning and development, and changes in this process raise red flags with some conservation groups.

“We have concerns about how this will be implemented,” says Joel Merriman, ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “A combination of aggressive timelines and the potential for automatic approvals at key steps in the process leaves the door open for wind energy facility plans to inadequately address risks to birds.”

Wind energy development is an important element of fighting climate change, but it does not come without environmental costs. ABC estimates that more than 500,000 birds are killed annually from collisions with wind turbines in the U.S. Given projected industry build-out, that figure is expected to increase to more than 1.4 million annually by 2030. Birds are also killed by powerlines installed to connect wind facilities to the energy grid, and yet others are displaced by facility development. Some species, such as Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, are more vulnerable to turbine collisions, and due to slow reproductive rates, these birds have less capacity to recover from losses.

The Act creates a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which will work with other agencies to review and set conditions for proposed renewable energy projects. The input of wildlife management agencies will be crucial to ensure that birds receive adequate protection, but under the new law, these agencies are given short time windows to participate. Insufficient staffing, busy seasons, and many other factors could prevent meaningful review and input, potentially leaving birds largely out of the discussion.

Further, under the new law, local community input is substantially reduced and comes later in the planning process. This may prevent those with first-hand knowledge of local bird populations from influencing critical project elements that are determined early in the process, including facility and turbine siting.  

“A lot hinges on development of strong standards and conditions for project siting and planning,” says Merriman. “These must ensure that local bird populations are thoroughly assessed, and that turbines are not sited in high-risk areas.”

For example, in an application filed for the Heritage Wind project in western New York in mid-March, the developer proposes placing wind turbines in close proximity to a large wetland complex that includes a National Wildlife Refuge and two state Wildlife Management Areas. Important to both breeding and migratory birds, this block of habitat supports many species of conservation concern and is also considered an Important Bird Area. During the planning process, two local bird conservation organizations raised concerns about the planned facility’s proximity to these sensitive areas, but these points have not been addressed by the developer.

“The bird-related conflict that poorly sited wind facilities create is largely avoidable if good siting practices are required,” says Merriman. “The State can greatly reduce this kind of conflict by establishing no-go zones and other commonsense standards to keep turbines out of high-risk areas.”

Merriman offers some broader advice on meeting renewable energy goals: “Renewable energy development is just one piece of the climate change solution puzzle,” he says. “We encourage the State to be equally aggressive in implementing energy efficiency measures and installing distributed solar energy. Put solar panels on commercial, municipal, and residential buildings, over parking lots…anywhere they can be supported. Birds and people win when energy production is sited where it’s used, away from valuable bird habitat.”

Merriman continues, “In other arenas, New York has done great things for birds. The State can maintain this commitment by making some adjustments to the Act, such as eliminating automatic approvals and setting a positive precedent in the development of standards and conditions for wind energy projects. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, ABC, and others shows that the United States and Canada lost nearly 3 billion birds — almost 30 percent of the total population — since 1970. It’s critical that we balance the need for renewable energy development with protecting our vulnerable bird populations.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

oxoplasma gondii: a risk for people and wildlife

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Keeping cats indoors is safer for cats, people, and wildlife. ABC has numerous resources to help pet owners transition their cats to full-time indoor living, including enrichment activities, literature, and more. Photo by Nikita Starichenko/Shutterstock

(Washington, D.C., April 14, 2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic tragically continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, evidence is mounting that domestic cats and other felines may also be at risk of contracting the disease. Professional organizations and new research suggest keeping pet cats indoors to manage infection risks.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) this week recommended that people who are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms keep their cats indoors. According to BVA, it is possible that outdoor cats may carry the virus on their fur, just as the virus can live on other surfaces.

The American Veterinary Medical Association's standing policy is that pet cats be kept indoors. Their policy states that “keeping owned cats confined, such as housing them in an enriched indoor environment, in an outdoor enclosure, or exercising leash-acclimated cats, can minimize the risks to the cats, wildlife, humans, and the environment.”

For people wanting to respond to these concerns by transitioning their cats from the outdoors to indoors, whether temporarily or permanently, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) offers a range of helpful solutions on its website that were developed over years of consultation with veterinarians and pet owners.

New studies from researchers in China, where the virus was first identified, evaluated SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to determine host susceptibilities and to better understand how the virus may move through the environment. These studies (Luan et al. 2020Shi et al. 2020Sun et al. preprintZhang et al. preprint), taken together, concluded that domestic cats are susceptible to infection, that infections have occurred both in experimental trials and outside the laboratory, and that infected domestic cats may transmit the virus to uninfected domestic cats.

Domestic cat infections have also been recently reported in Belgium and Hong Kong. Two Malayan Tigers, two Amur Tigers, and three Lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York have also shown symptoms of infection, and the only tiger to be tested came back positive for COVID-19. It's suspected that people exposed these felines to the virus. So far, the disease does not appear to be fatal to cats, and there is no evidence that the disease has passed from cats to people.

“Keeping pet cats safely contained indoors, on a leash, or in a catio is always a great choice to protect cats, birds, and people,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at ABC. “At this point, it appears that keeping pet cats indoors is also the safer alternative to ensure the virus isn't accidentally picked up or transferred by the cat.”

As well as being at risk from diseases, cars, and other threats, outdoor cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion wild birds each year in the U.S. alone.

Since 1997, ABC's Cats Indoors program has supported responsible cat ownership that not only protects birds and other wildlife but also supports long, healthy lives for pet cats. Cat owners interested in bringing their cats indoors, or providing safe outdoor time for their pets, can find resources on the Cats Indoors website.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Cats and COVID-19

Information and resources for those concerned about their cats during the pandemic

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Keeping cats indoors is safer for cats, people, and wildlife. ABC has numerous resources to help pet owners transition their cats to full-time indoor living, including enrichment activities, literature, and more. Photo by Nikita Starichenko/Shutterstock

(Washington, D.C., April 10, 2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic tragically continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, evidence is mounting that domestic cats and other felines may also be at risk of contracting the disease. Professional organizations and new research suggest keeping pet cats indoors to manage infection risks.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) this week recommended that people who are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms keep their cats indoors. According to BVA, it is possible that outdoor cats may carry the virus on their fur, just as the virus can live on other surfaces.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s standing policy is that pet cats be kept indoors. Their policy states that “keeping owned cats confined, such as housing them in an enriched indoor environment, in an outdoor enclosure, or exercising leash-acclimated cats, can minimize the risks to the cats, wildlife, humans, and the environment.”

For people wanting to respond to these concerns by transitioning their cats from the outdoors to indoors, whether temporarily or permanently, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) offers a range of helpful solutions on its website that were developed over years of consultation with veterinarians and pet owners. 

New studies from researchers in China, where the virus was first identified, evaluated SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to determine host susceptibilities and to better understand how the virus may move through the environment. These studies (Luan et al. 2020; Shi et al. 2020; Sun et al. preprint; Zhang et al. preprint), taken together, concluded that domestic cats are susceptible to infection, that infections have occurred both in experimental trials and outside the laboratory, and that infected domestic cats may transmit the virus to uninfected domestic cats.

Domestic cat infections have also been recently reported in Belgium and Hong Kong. Two Malayan Tigers, two Amur Tigers, and three Lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York have also shown symptoms of infection, and the only tiger to be tested came back positive for COVID-19. It’s suspected that people exposed these felines to the virus. So far, the disease does not appear to be fatal to cats, and there is no evidence that the disease has passed from cats to people.

“Keeping pet cats safely contained indoors, on a leash, or in a catio is always a great choice to protect cats, birds, and people,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at ABC. “At this point, it appears that keeping pet cats indoors is also the safer alternative to ensure the virus isn’t accidentally picked up or transferred by the cat.”

As well as being at risk from diseases, cars, and other threats, outdoor cats kill an estimated 2.4 billion wild birds each year in the U.S. alone.

Since 1997, ABC’s Cats Indoors program has supported responsible cat ownership that not only protects birds and other wildlife but also supports long, healthy lives for pet cats. Cat owners interested in bringing their cats indoors, or providing safe outdoor time for their pets, can find resources on the Cats Indoors website.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

 

(Washington, D.C., February 14, 2020) The Commonwealth of Virginia has announced plans to help waterbirds displaced by construction on Hampton Roads’ South Island, which has been used by more than 20,000 birds as annual breeding habitat since the 1980s. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) applauds Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources for their emergency measures, which include the creation of alternative breeding habitat for this critically important waterbird colony.

First, ABC is extremely grateful to the administration for proposing a set of measures designed to help migratory birds both in Hampton Roads and across Virginia. In particular, Virginia’s steps to create a new regulation to protect migratory birds from future industrial development will position the Commonwealth as a leader in bird conservation at a time when federal regulations to protect birds are being weakened.

Second, ABC welcomes the following package of specific measures designed to help Hampton Roads’ waterbird colony, which is the Commonwealth’s largest and includes many declining species:

  • The creation of breeding habitat at nearby Rip Raps Island (formerly known as Fort Wool) and potentially on artificial barges, which is equivalent to the area currently being utilized by terns (Common, Gull-billed, Sandwich, and Royal) on South Island; and a plan to attract the birds to the new habitat and to control predators.
  • The development of a plan to carefully discourage birds from attempting to nest on South Island this spring, since paving and construction activities will render the habitat unsuitable. Instead, the Commonwealth will encourage the birds to move to the newly created nesting habitat at Rip Raps Island.
     
  • A commitment to restore habitat on South Island post-construction to allow birds to return to nest there.
     
  • Plans to create an additional, alternate nesting island in the longer-term, which taken together with the other alternative breeding habitats created will represent a net gain for overall bird habitat in the area.

“We’re optimistic that this plan will effectively provide immediate habitat for the birds to save the 2020 nesting season, as well as a net gain of habitat in the longer term,” said Mike Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy. “Many individuals and groups have participated in the effort to help the Hampton Roads bird colony. We’re grateful for their concern and support, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Commonwealth and other public and private partners to further benefit waterbirds nesting in Virginia and elsewhere.”


American Bird Conservancy invests in on-the-ground conservation for the Townsend’s Shearwater and other endangered species

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The Townsend’s Shearwater, along with several other seabird species, will benefit from on-the-ground conservation work and financial support from American Bird Conservancy. Photo by GECI, J.A. Soriano

(Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019)Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced awards totaling $100,000 to restore important seabird nesting colonies in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. The awards will leverage additional matching funds, putting a total of $243,000 on the ground for direct conservation. Through this effort, ABC and partners are investing in the future of some of the Western Hemisphere’s most imperiled seabirds, including the Townsend’s Shearwater, Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, Townsend’s Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, and Black-capped Petrel. These species are listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some of the nesting sites where the projects will occur are globally recognized for their unique biodiversity through the Alliance for Zero Extinction.

These restoration grants, the first of their kind offered by ABC, address an urgent need for increased investment in capacity for seabird restoration, particularly in South America, where 38 globally threatened seabirds occur amidst unaddressed and growing threats, such as introduced predators.

Support for local initiatives is a key focus of these awards. “We are pleased to provide funds to dedicated local conservationists, many of whom are the only individuals or groups working to protect seabirds in their countries,” says Hannah Nevins, ABC’s Seabird Program Director.

Awards include:

  • MexicoYuliana Bedolla and Federico Mendez of Grupo Ecología y Conservación de las Islas (GECI) will lead a project focused on restoration and monitoring on seven Mexican islands to protect four globally threatened seabird species. GECI is globally recognized for its expertise in eradicating nonnative species from islands. The project will benefit the Critically Endangered Townsend’s Shearwater and Endangered Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, and Townsend’s Storm-Petrel. Social attraction and artificial burrows will be used to attract birds to nest sites protected from nonnative predators.
     
  • Peru – This project will support conservation of the Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrel by providing baseline information on nonnative rodent impacts at the birds’ island nesting sites. It will also create a framework to communicate the need for conservation action, including invasive rodent eradication, on two important seabird islands off the Peruvian coast in the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. This effort will be led by Dr. Carlos Zavalaga of Universidad Científica del Sur, Marine Ecosystems Research Unit - Seabird Group, and Dr. Joanna Alfaro of ProDelphinus, in Lima, Peru.
     
  • Chile – Social attraction techniques that broadcast bird calls to simulate the sounds of an active colony will be used to attract Endangered Peruvian Diving-Petrels to the island of Chañaral, which was formerly home to the world’s largest nesting colony of the species, but is now empty. An earlier project to eradicate habitat-damaging nonnative rabbits has made the island safe for the birds to return. This work will be led by Coral Wolf of Island Conservation in collaboration with local partner Dr. Claudia Fernández Zamora of Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile.
     
  • Dominican Republic – A team, led by Ernst Rupp of the conservation nonprofit Grupo Jaragua and Dr. Yvan Satgé from the South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University, will work in the Sierra de Bahoruco to protect the few known nesting sites of the Endangered Black-capped Petrelby controlling nonnative predators.

“For species such as the Black-capped Petrel, few nesting sites have been found, so it is critical to protect each and every known site. The clock is ticking loudly for this species. Adult birds return every year to the same burrow and are subject to an onslaught of threats — human disturbance, agricultural encroachment, forest fires, and nonnative predators,” says Nevins.

Seabirds are among the most imperiled groups of birds. About one-third of seabird species are in decline worldwide due the above-mentioned threats, along with sea-level rise, reduction of prey due to overfishing, and fisheries bycatch. Most seabirds nest on or under the ground in burrows, where they are especially vulnerable to nonnative predators, including feral cats, mongooses, rats, and mice.

“Through these awards, ABC seeks to promote the kind of coordinated, large-scale efforts needed to conserve seabird nesting colonies,” added Dr. George Wallace, ABC’s Threatened Species Conservation Officer. “The goal is to ensure that our children will see these magnificent species persist into the next century and beyond.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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