FCC Ordered to Study Bird-Tower Collisions

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Washington - Feb 19, 2008 - An old topic has resurfaced thanks to recent U.S. Court of Appeals action that revisits the migratory birds and towers issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with conservation groups that claimed the Federal Communications Commission violated government rules by approving communications towers that threaten migratory birds. The Court has ordered the FCC to study the environmental effect of towers built in the Gulf Coast region, as the conservation groups requested.

At issue are 6,000 towers that must be assessed. The groups want the FCC to take action regarding the towers that pose the biggest threat to birds. These actions could include height regulations, location restrictions and design specifications that would endanger birds.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 4 million to 50 million birds die every year colliding with communications towers as they cross the Gulf of Mexico during the fall and spring seasons. In addition, it is often cited that tower lighting actually attracts birds. The birds then collide with the tower, guy wires or other birds.

The conservation groups have been battling this case for a decade. The FCC denied an April 2006 petition for a tower construction moratorium in the Gulf region, saying that the groups made general allegations and not specific complaints about specific towers.

Broadcasters and tower owners often call for more scientific research into the matter. Many people question the validity of an estimation of bird deaths that spans 46 million birds.

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