Contact(s): Karen Etter Hale, WBCI chair, 920-245-1395; email@example.comCraig Thompson, DNR, 608-785-1277 Craig.Thompson@wisconsin.gov
MADISON - A coalition of 180 Wisconsin organizations dedicated to conserving birds is celebrating 15 years of accomplishments, unveiling a new strategic plan to guide the next five years, and digging deeper into declining populations of purple martins, chimney swifts, whip-poor-wills, and other insect-eating birds.
The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (exit DNR) has accomplished great things for Wisconsin's birds," says Craig Thompson, a Department of Natural Resources section chief and bird expert leading DNR involvement in the collaboration.
"Partners have identified critical habitat sites for birds statewide, developed actions to save 116 species most in need of conservation help, and provided opportunities to actively engage citizens in bird conservation through statewide monitoring efforts and Bird City communities.
"Our new strategic plan builds on these successes and sets the stage for even more cutting-edge conservation."
The collaborative, WBCI for short, includes bird clubs, hunting and fishing groups, government agencies, land trusts, nature centers, environmental groups, universities, and businesses. Collaboration goals include conserving and restoring endangered, threatened, and rare bird species and their habitats; educating Wisconsin citizens about birds and bird conservation issues; and promoting bird-based recreation and the enjoyment of birds.
The group's annual meeting and workshop is set for Sept. 6-8 in Waukesha and registration is now open.
Karen Etter Hale, WBCI chair and Wisconsin Audubon Council's Director of Community Relations, says the collaboration "has been, and will continue to be, an effective collaboration for birds, because of its many engaged and diverse partners. Our power is in our partnerships."
Etter Hale says the strategic plan refocuses WBCI to ensure its continued success in times of tight funding and growing threats to birds.
Michael John Jaeger, past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, says the strategic plan calls for WBCI partners to build on past efforts, most importantly addressing Important Bird Areas. "What WBCI has done is take the first step - identify these crucial sites," he says. "Now we need to build on that and bring our partners into working to advocate on behalf of the IBAs to better protect and enhance them."
Other high priority actions call for:
Jaeger says that by working together to carry out these high priority actions and a slate of secondary actions, "we believe WBCI will significantly advance conservation of all native bird species, including the 21 percent of species with low or declining populations."