Date: 6/29/20 12:51 pm
From: Wayne Weber <contopus...>
Subject: [obol] Breeding Bird Surveys--- US Geological Survey vs. US Fish & Wildlife Service
Joel and Oregon Birders,

For those who are unclear, the USGS is the scientific research arm of the US federal government. Research biologists (wildlife biologists, fisheries biologists, etc.) as well as geologists are employed by USGS, not USFWS. In other words, wildlife management operations (including National Wildlife Refuges) and law enforcement are carried out by USFWS, but wildlife research is carried out by USGS. The entire Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, including the Bird Banding Lab, is part of USGS.

Yes, it is confusing that wildlife research is carried out by the US Geological Survey. The name of the agency is inappropriate, and has been for many years, but I believe it would take action by Congress to change the name.

The US should probably follow the example of Australia, where government research scientists are employed by CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), or the UK, which has the comparable DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research). In these cases, the name of the organization clearly explains its scope and function.

Someone should suggest to their Congressman that USGS needs a name change-- it is certainly long overdue!

Wayne Weber

Delta, BC, Canada


From: <obol-bounce...> [mailto:<obol-bounce...>] On Behalf Of <clearwater...>
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2020 10:18 AM
To: Oregon Birders OnLine
Subject: [obol] Clear-as-mud clarification on Breeding Bird Survey

Lars described the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) project.

Here's an old article from Birding magazine which gives some of the history of this project:

The BBS was indeed started by a USFWS biologist, Chandler Robbins, in 1966. However it is presently a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) project, run by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Laboratory in Patuxent, Maryland, which also runs the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL).

I'm not sure of the full story of how Patuxent came under management by the USGS, but one chapter of that story involved the former U.S. Biological Survey (or U.S. Biological Information Infrastructure). The Biological Survey was created in following a recommendation by the National Science Foundation in 1994, during the Clinton administration. The George W. Bush administration shut down the Biological Survey in the early 2000s and passed the BBS project to the USGS, as part of a government-reduction agenda. The current USGS website is rather opaque about the past history of both the Patuxent lab and the BBS, prior to the USGS taking responsibility.

It would certainly make sense for USFWS rather than USGS to be running both the BBS and the BBL. But I suppose that would require one undersecretary in the Department of the Interior to give up part of their fiefdom, and with it part of their annual budget allocation.


Joel Geier

Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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