Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate have proposed an early reauthorization of the NMBCA. "This is such a wonderful opportunity for Congress to expand and build upon successful, cost-effective efforts to conserve migratory birds," said Daulton, who previously testified in favor of the Act in 2005.
The Act provides grants to organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean to conserve neotropical migrants, and has been enormously successful, protecting more than 3 million acres of habitat. Neotropical migratory birds include well known birds, such as the Mourning Dove, and endangered birds, including the Red Knot and Piping Plover. Among the 341 species that fall into this category, 127 are in serious decline. Several species on Audubon's WatchList have benefited from conservation efforts initiated under this Act, first passed into law in 2000.
"Birds are sending us a wake-up call that habitat destruction is taking a serious toll on the environment that sustains us all;" Daulton said. "The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act has a proven track record of reversing habitat loss and advancing conservation strategies. It's a smart investment."
The program leverages private investment in bird conservation. For every $1 spent by the government, $5 is spent on conservation. "That is a good deal for the American taxpayer," Daulton said. "Birds also provide a return on our investment by helping the US economy in many ways. They contribute as pollinators, help control insects and rodents, and disperse seeds. They also attract birdwatchers, and inspire backyard feeding, the buying of binoculars and other equipment, and birding trips."
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bird watching and other wildlife-related recreation generates $122 billion in spending every year. Their surveys also suggest that one in five Americans watches birds. Neotropical species include some of the most popular birds, such as the Ruby-throated hummingbirds now winging their way to Mexico and Central America.
"Neotropical" is a biological realm that includes South and Central America, the West Indies, and tropical Mexico. Neotropical birds represent more than half of the breeding birds of the United States, and they are spending eight months of every year south of the border, where they are being exposed to significant and serious threats. "If we want to conserve these birds, we have to invest not only in conservation in the United States but also in protecting the areas they need as they migrate south and return," Daulton said.
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