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GLIN==>> Urban Treaty for Bird Conservation Unveiled



Posted on behalf of Rich Greenwood <Rich_Greenwood@fws.gov>

---
Chris Tollefson (202) 219-8104

Julie St. Louis
703-358-1714


URBAN TREATY FOR BIRD CONSERVATION UNVEILED

Tweety Named Official Spokesbird

New Orleans, La., June 13, 1999   Birds of a feather flocked
together today to protect America's songbird populations when
the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of New Orleans, and Warner Bros.'
legendary animated canary, Tweety, joined forces
to
sign the first Urban Treaty for Bird Conservation.  The announcement was
made
today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting.

The Urban Treaty pilot program, designed to help cities
conserve
migratory bird populations and their habitat through voluntary partnerships,
recognizes the crucial role that urban
communities
can play in migratory bird conservation efforts.

Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark praised the commitment
of
New Orleans and its Mayor, Marc H. Morial, to bird conservation.

"We are extremely pleased to announce this partnership with the City of New
Orleans, at a time when the importance of urban
bird
conservation is increasingly recognized.  By taking steps to conserve birds
and
their habitats, we can also make our communities better places to live,"
Clark
said.

New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial said the Urban Treaty program will help his
city expand bird conservation education in urban schools and improve habitat
for
birds.

"The vitality of native bird populations is an indication of
the
health of an entire ecosystem.  The unique birds of New
Orleans,
immortalized by the paintings and impressions of naturalist
John
James Audubon, have always been a precious resource," said Morial.  "We are
grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for helping us continue
eco-positive practices in New Orleans."



                               2--


As part of the program, Tweety will share his wit and wisdom to raise
awareness
of steps that can be taken to ensure survival
of
birds in the urban environment.

"The lovable cat and canary team of Sylvester and Tweety has entertained
audiences over the years with their
cat-chasing-bird
antics.  Tweety has proven to be an expert at survival and, on behalf of his
feathered friends, will help educate the American people on the importance
of
urban bird conservation," said Dan Romanelli, President, Warner Bros.
Consumer
Products.

Birds are a critical component of every ecosystem, and are an excellent
indicator of the overall health of the environment. But they have a special
significance in urban areas that transcend their place in the natural world.
In
an age of increasing urbanization, they may represent the only day-to-day
contact many people have with wildlife.

Clark noted that the type of habitat that attracts birds in
urban
areas   parks, greenways, and tree-lined streets, for example
directly improves the quality of life in any community.  In addition, bird
watching and other bird-related activities generate direct economic
benefits, an
estimated $29 billion for the U.S. economy in 1996 alone.

Some of America's most recognized birds, including blue jays
and
the wood thrush, commonly make their nests in urban areas. Populations of
these
species and others are declining, giving cities an unprecedented chance to
contribute to the future of bird conservation.

The Service's Migratory Bird Management Office developed the Urban Treaty
pilot
program in the hope that it may serve as a model for future habitat
restoration
and education
partnerships,
selecting the City of New Orleans to be the first Urban Treaty city.  The
city
has been awarded a $50,000 matching grant by
the
Service to implement its Urban Treaty, with future designations of other
Urban
Treaty cities to follow as the pilot program is successfully implemented.

New Orleans includes the 23,000-acre Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge,
the
nation's largest urban national wildlife refuge, within its city limits.
The
city offers an excellent opportunity to inaugurate the program in an area
known
for its native birds and its importance as a waystation for birds migrating
to
and from the Caribbean, Central and South America.

With 517 refuges scattered throughout all 50 states, many of which are near
urban areas, the Service is in an ideal position to work with urban
communities
and their residents on bird conservation initiatives.

                               3--


The Urban Treaty program will provide a framework to support education
programs,
habitat restoration and enhancement, and other initiatives mutually agreed
upon
by the Urban Treaty city and the Service, in consultation with state
wildlife
agencies. Cities that sign an Urban Treaty for Bird Conservation with the
Service may be eligible for matching grants, technical and educational
assistance and other support.  The Service will also work with the city to
find
other conservation partners for
Urban
Treaty initiatives.

"The Service views this program as a partnership based on the specific needs
of
each treaty city.  We're open to all creative ideas from cities for ways to
conserve and enhance urban bird populations," said Clark.

Urban birds are among the nation's most vulnerable bird groups. According to
the
most recent breeding bird survey conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and
the
Service, only 31 percent of urban bird species are estimated to have
increasing
populations.
Their generally declining populations probably reflect the cumulative
effects of
habitat loss, deaths from improper pesticide application, and predation from
domestic house cats.

On the other side of the spectrum, some bird species that adapt well to
artificial urban environments are causing problems with their overabundance.
For example, many urban parks and golf courses are overrun with resident
Canada
geese, while enormous populations of starlings and pigeons breed disease,
destroy habitat and crowd out native species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible
for conserving, protecting, and enhancing
fish
and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of
the
American people.  The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife
Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges,
thousands of
small wetlands, and
other
special management areas.  It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64
fish
and wildlife management offices, and 78 ecological services field stations.
The
agency enforces
Federal
wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory
bird
populations, restores national significant fisheries, conserves and restores
wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes
hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting
equipment
to state fish and wildlife agencies.
                              ###

Looney Tunes, characters, names and all related indicia are trademarks of
Warner
Bros.  1999.