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State of the Birds Report

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Lessons of the Passenger Pigeon

The last Passenger Pigeons in the wild were shot just after 1900, a tragic way to start a century. But ironically, their disappearance ushered in a powerful new era of conservation. The pigeon inspired leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, George
Bird Grinnell, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, and provided the impetus for federal wildlife protection laws, beginning with the Lacey Act, followed by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and eventually the Endangered Species Act.

Reflecting back on the plight of the Passenger Pigeon, our nation has made tremendous strides in wildlife conservation. We have developed deep scientific knowledge, built a strong network of protected habitats, and designed the world’s best model for adaptive management of wildlife populations. Our charge today
is to protect these investments with policies that rise to the threats that wildlife face in the 21st century.

Key Policies for America’s Birds

Support and actions on key government policies help keep the assurance to the American public of healthy bird populations for future generations. These policies include:

• The North American Wetlands Conservation Act and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act;

• Revenue provided by sales of the Duck Stamp;

• The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels treaty that endorses America’s bird-friendly ocean fishing;

• Conservation programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants;

• The Conservation Reserve Program; and,

• Policies that reduce the impacts of climate change and help birds adapt.


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