WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced legislation (S. 520) to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which would help sustain healthy populations of migratory birds that face threats to their health and habitats. The bill promotes international cooperation for long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring and habitat protection for more than 350 species of neotropical migratory birds, including Maryland’s state bird: the Baltimore Oriole. The bill furthers investment in critical conservation programs that have demonstrated marked successes through public-private partnerships and advanced conservation strategies.
“This simple legislation reauthorizes a cost-effective, budget-friendly and highly successful federal program to protect birds that have seen steady declines in their populations. The Baltimore Oriole has been experiencing a decline in population despite being protected by federal and state laws,” said Senator Cardin. “Our goal is to continue to sustain healthy populations of migratory birds that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but also helpful to our farmers through consumption of billions of harmful insects and rodent pests each year, providing pollination services, and dispersing seeds. In addition, 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 economy, as well as our ecosystem. Nationwide, bird watchers include more than 47 million Americans. They are part of a larger wildlife watching public that spends $54.9 billion annually.
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. Since 2002, more than $50.1 million in grants have been awarded, supporting 451 projects in 36 countries. Partners have contributed an additional $190.6 million, and more than 3.7 million acres of habitat have been affected. In 2014, the grants totaled $3.6 million, with $12 million in matching funds across 20 countries.
More than half of the bird species found in the U.S. migrate across our borders and many of these spend our winter in Central and South America. Migratory birds face threats from pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl and invasive species that degrade their habitats, in addition to the natural risks of their extended flights.
“Conservation efforts in our country are essential, but investment in programs throughout the migratory routes of these and countless other migratory birds is likewise critical,” said Senator Cardin.