50 million birds die each year in tower collisions

The FCC has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making on whether it should take actions to reduce the number of migratory bird collisions with communications towers.

The issue arose in August 2003, when the FCC began an inquiry on the issue. Last week’s notice seeks comment on the extent of the effects of communications towers on migratory birds, as well as various legal, substantive and procedural issues related to adopting measures to diminish migratory bird collisions with communications towers.

The FCC wants comment on its legal authority to adopt regulations related to migratory bird collisions with towers. It has tentatively decided that its obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act to consider the environmental effects of the actions it authorizes may provide a basis for such regulations.

The regulators also want to investigate the role of tower lighting in migratory bird collisions. The commission said it had tentatively concluded that medium intensity white strobe lights at night are preferred over red obstruction lighting systems, to the extent possible without compromising aircraft navigation safety.

Commissioner Michael Copps called bird collisions a serious problem.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tells us that millions of birds, perhaps as many as 50 million, die each year through such accidents. That is a sobering conclusion coming from the federal agency with the greatest scientific expertise when it comes to wildlife conservation and primary responsibility for protecting migratory birds,” Copps said.

“The situation imposes a grave responsibility on this agency, too, because of our important jurisdiction over tower painting and illumination — a responsibility to make sure that our rules and practices do not contribute to a needless toll of bird deaths.”

For more information, visit broadcastengineering.com/mag/broadcasting_dead_birds_derail and broadcastengineering.com/mag/broadcasting_broadcast_meets_bufflehead