March 10, 2011

CARDIN INTRODUCES BILL TO PROTECT THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE AND OTHER MIGRATORY BIRDS

Reauthorization would extend a cost-effective, highly successful federal program that helps to generate $2.7 billion annually for the U.S. economy

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, today introduced a bill that would reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act .  This bill promotes long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 350 species of neotropical migratory birds that breed in North America in the summer and spend their winters in tropical climates south of our border. Senator Cardin's legislationaims to sustain healthy populations of migratory birds that are not only beautiful to look at but help our farmers by consuming billions of harmful insect pests each year.

"Maryland's rich natural environment is a lure for millions of tourists, and it is equally attractive to avian visitors each year. Across the country, bird watchers include over 48 million Americans, part of a wildlife watching public that generates at least $2.7 billion annually for the U.S. economy. For nearly a decade, federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital to the well-being of our ecosystem and our economy," said Senator Cardin.

"The Baltimore Oriole, the Maryland state bird, has been experiencing a decline in population despite being protected by federal and state laws. Destruction of their domestic breeding habitat and tropical winter habitat, coupled with the toxic pesticides ingested by insects which are then eaten by the Oriole, has significantly contributed to this decline. It is essential that we invest in conservation efforts in our country as well as others along the migratory route of the wide range of migratory birds."

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act has a proven track record of reversing habitat loss and advancing conservation strategies for the broad range of neotropical birds that populate the United States and the rest of the Western hemisphere. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, between 2002 and 2010, this program has successfully supported 333 projects, coordinated by groups in 48 U.S. State/territories and 36 countries.  Additionally, it is a great value for taxpayers as it leverages over $4 for each federal dollar spent.  Since 2002, the U.S. has invested more than $25 million in 262 projects and leveraged an additional $112 million in partner funds to support these projects.

"Vulnerable bird populations face many environmental factors such as pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl, and invasive species that threaten their habitat and, ultimately, their survival. Song birds are good indicators of a healthy ecosystem. That's why it is troubling that, according to the National Audubon Society, at least 29 species of migratory birds are experiencing significant population declines," Senator Cardin added.

Neotropical migratory birds include such song birds as Baltimore Orioles, warblers, tanagers, vireos and other species.  Many of them have begun their annual migrations and will be arriving in Maryland over the next few months.

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