Petitioners Urge Federal Communications Commission to Protect Millions of Migratory Birds

For Immediate Release

Conservation Groups
Contact: 

Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy, 202/234-7181, ext. 216, sholmer@abcbirds.org,
Delta Willis, National Audubon Society, 212/979-3197, dwillis@audubon.org 
Cat Lazaroff, Defenders of Wildlife, 202/772-3270, clazaroff@defenders.org

Petitioners Urge Federal Communications Commission to Protect Millions of Migratory Birds

WASHINGTON - Conservation organizations and concerned
citizens are petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
address the killing of millions of migratory birds from collisions with the
more than 100,000 communications towers throughout the United States.
American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and Defenders of
Wildlife filed a petition with the FCC today asking the agency to adopt new
rules to comply with federal environmental laws, including the National
Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, in order to ensure
that the impact of towers on migratory birds is properly considered and
addressed in agency decisions.  The groups are also delivering over 15,000
petitions to the regulatory agency signed by citizens concerned for
threatened wildlife.

"We urge
the FCC to respond to the scientific evidence that millions of migratory birds
are being killed every year by communications towers, and act swiftly to
release rules that can halt this needless carnage," said George
Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

An American
Bird Conservancy report analyzing documented tower kills
lists 230 species - over one third of all avian species found in the
United States - that are known to be killed at towers,
including many species of conservation concern such as the Blackpoll Warbler,
Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

The vast
majority of bird mortality occurs during fall and spring when night-migrating
birds are attracted in large flocks to the aviation safety lights on
towers. The lights, especially red solid-state or slow pulsing lights,
interfere with the birds' celestial navigation cues, particularly
during poor visibility conditions such as rain and fog. Confused, the birds
fly around the towers repeatedly, crashing into one another, the tower, its
guy wires, or the ground. Others simply drop from exhaustion.

FCC
Commissioners have recognized that this is a serious problem, resulting in
the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in November 2006, but the FCC
has yet to release a proposed rule.

"Our
communications network needn't be a death sentence for birds,"
said Audubon Chief Scientist Dr. Thomas Bancroft.  "The FCC needs
to take action now to make communications towers safe for birds as well as
for human aviation." 

 

In
February 2008, a federal court of appeals ordered the FCC to carefully
evaluate the potential adverse effects of communications towers on migratory
bird populations of the Gulf Coast region. A panel of federal judges ruled
that national environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the
National Environmental Policy Act require the FCC to more carefully consider
these possible adverse effects in its tower permitting process.

"The FCC
has been aware of this problem for at least ten years. Now more than a year
after the court clearly found the Commission in violation of federal
environmental law when it comes to migratory birds, still no progress has
been made,"
said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of
Wildlife. "The commission should stop dragging its feet and take action
to implement rules that address this significant conservation issue."

These specific
rules would include procedures for consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service regarding species listed under the Endangered Species Act and
considering the effects of communications towers on migratory birds under the
National Environmental Policy Act.  The groups also call for the FCC to
develop an environmental impact statement considering the effects of
communications towers on birds and methods to reduce bird losses on a
national basis.

A
copy of the groups' petition is available at http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/towers/fcc_petition.html

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American Bird Conservancy (ABC) works to
conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC
acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats,
while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3)
membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating
by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all
native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1
million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate
for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations
to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

Audubon, now in its
second century, is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the
habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature
centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on
behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of
people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation. www.audubon.org
.

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