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Pennsylvania Birders call to action – the birds are counting on you

Drew Weber|

American Bittern

Scott Weidensaul just posted this to the listserv today and I think it is a very important issue. Below is his text. I urge each of you to read it and to contact your legislature. There are already several people talking on the listserv about how their single call caused their representative or senator to rethink their support of the bill, because they didn’t fully understand what it meant or did. Here is where your action can make the difference for many species of plants, birds and mammals that need additional protections in Pennsylvania.

Please, take a little time and call, write and generally make your opposition to this bill known. The birds are counting on you.


Scott’s message

I trust by now everyone on this list is aware of the significant attack being launched on rare species in Pennsylvania. The deceptively named “Endangered Species Coordination Act” (House Bill 1576 and its Senate companion, SB 1047) would gut the ability of our state resource agencies to list and protect rare plants and animals; essentially only those listed by the federal government would be covered.

A hearing held in Schuylkill County on Monday showed clearly how poorly the bill’s own sponsors understand the issues, since virtually all of the examples they raised of allegedly onerous regulations involved federally listed species like Indiana bats, not those like great egrets, American bitterns and upland sandpipers that are listed only by the state, and and which already receive a fairly limited degree of protection because of this.

Among other problems, the bill would make protection of high-quality trout streams far more difficult, and allow lawmakers – not scientists and resource experts – to invalidate protection for rare plants and animals. It shifts the burden for determining whether rare species will be impacted by projects from the developers to the state, and requires – but does not define – “acceptable data” to back up any action. Care to guess who will determine what constitutes “acceptable” data? It won’t be the wildlife professionals.

As if we needed more reasons to opposes these bills, their passage would likely mean the loss in up to $27 million in federal wildlife restoration funds, representing up to a third the budgets of the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission:

http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pa-endangered-species-0828-20130828,0,5801265.story

If you’re interested in viewing the hearing for yourself, watch the video below:

This bill is not a joke – with 60 cosponsors, HB 1576 is very likely to win passage, and there’s little doubt the governor would sign it.

It’s critical every birder in the state takes a moment to contact their state representative and senator, and express in the strongest possible terms their opposition to this travesty of a bill. It is especially important if your rep or senator is a cosponsor. (Mine is, and he got an earful from me about it). The House co-sponsors are:

PYLE, GERGELY, MALONEY, MILLARD, MULLERY, KAUFFMAN, D. COSTA, BLOOM, HELM, HARHAI, RAPP, GOODMAN, CUTLER, GIBBONS, AUMENT, MARSHALL, C. HARRIS, REED, PICKETT, MATZIE, HEFFLEY, EVERETT, MASSER, M. K. KELLER, SWANGER, KNOWLES, METCALFE, DUNBAR, SONNEY, GROVE, KRIEGER, REESE, STEVENSON, NEUMAN, SANKEY, CAUSER, SACCONE, ROCK, GODSHALL, TOBASH, MURT, R. BROWN, SCHLEGEL CULVER, P. COSTA, DAVIS, BURNS, P. DALEY, ENGLISH, TALLMAN, BAKER, BARRAR, CHRISTIANA, ELLIS, EVANKOVICH, KORTZ, JAMES, KULA, MAJOR, METZGAR, MOUL, MUSTIO, OBERLANDER, TOOHIL, SNYDER, PASHINSKI, READSHAW, ROAE, SAYLOR

There are fewer Senate co-sponsors:

SCARNATI, WAUGH, GORDNER, ERICKSON, HUTCHINSON, WHITE, RAFFERTY, MENSCH, BRUBAKER, KASUNIC, FONTANA, BREWSTER, TARTAGLIONE, YUDICHAK AND HUGHES

Do this before you pick up your binoculars this weekend. You owe it to the birds.

About the Author

Drew Weber

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Drew is the founder and editor of Nemesis Bird and now works to curate some of the best content the web has to offer on birding and ornithology from an energetic crew of ornithologists, field researchers, tour leaders and photographers. Drew is originally from PA but now lives in central New York where he is enjoying the long and snowy winters. He has done various bird jobs including bird surveys for the 2nd PA Breeding Bird Atlas, tracked saw-whet owls from dusk to dawn with Scott Weidensaul and counted hawks for several years for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. His master's research at Penn State University focused on grassland birds and their relationships with different agricultural practices. Drew is an avid lister, especially on smaller scales, and enjoys adding new birds to county, state and life lists. A sucker for competitions, he has placed 2nd in the World Series of Birding (with Nemesis Birders Andy McGann and Mike Lanzone) and is the part of the winning team for the Onondaga Audubon Bird-a-thon in Central NY and the Shaver's Creek Birding Cup (2 years running with Nemesis Birder Alex Lamoreaux). He also enjoys digiscoping and making apps for birders. He is project manager for the North American Rare Bird Alert and coordinates the development of BirdsEye and BirdsEye Hotspots. Some topics that really interest him are migration, bird distributions and vagrancy.