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On Thursday, December 3, 5:30-7:30 pm Mountain Time (7:30-9:30 pm EST), the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series with U.S. Senator Tom Udall as honorary co-host will present our fourth and final webinar of the series “Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S.” 

The webinar is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. Registration Link:

Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S. will feature three distinguished panelists who have worked on and thought about state-level biodiversity conservation for a long time: Professor Adrian Treves, founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Louisa Willcox, co-founder of Grizzly Times and a passionate advocate of protecting grizzlies, wolves and other large carnivores; and Dr. Fred Koontz, field biologist and conservationist who retired after a 35-year wildlife conservation career working in zoo, field and university settings at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust (now “EcoHealth Alliance”), Columbia University, and the Woodland Park Zoo. The webinar will be moderated by wildlife conservationist Kevin Bixby, founder and executive director of Southwest Environmental Center. Kevin was the lead organizer of the first national conference on the topic of Reenvisioning State Wildlife Governance, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2018.

Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S. will be co-presented by Southwest Environmental Center and the Species in Peril project at UNM.

I’m also pleased to share with you some news and articles that maybe of interest to you.

On Thu. Nov. 19, we hosted our third webinar “Indigenous Kinship and Multispecies Justice” (YouTube Video). The following week, at the seventh annual Native American Languages Summit, Senator Tom Udall was honored with the inaugural Native American Language Legacy Organizational Leadership Award. “Throughout his career in Congress, Udall has championed efforts to expand federal support for Native American languages,” Los Alamos Daily Post reported. I take a moment to congratulate Senator Udall on this important recognition and express our gratitude for serving as honorary co-host of our biodiversity webinar series. 

To bring attention to why protecting Indigenous languages matter for biodiversity conservation, I wrote an article “Protecting Indigenous Languages is Protecting Biodiversity.” We thank editors of Common Dreams, Countercurrents, and Counterpunch for their ongoing support of publishing articles from our Species in Peril initiative, including the current article. 

But last week was also significant as, “Under Cover of Thanksgiving,” President Trump proceeded to gut the bedrock 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Over the past 100+ years the MBTA helped protect the lives of billions of birds and held corporations accountable—to pay for restoration after such reckless destructions as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska—both of which killed many birds. The MBTA “is credited with rescuing the snowy egret, wood duck, and sandhill crane from extinction,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

While the Unites States is not yet but should be a party to the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals—a law like the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act that the U.S. does have must not be weakened when so many species of birds are experiencing die-offs in the U.S.; many may go extinct in our lifetime. 

This Fall, as we were hosting the biodiversity webinar series, all across in my home state of New Mexico, there was a mass die-off of birds happening, which included deaths of 218 different species of birds, according to the iNaturalist Southwest Avian Mortality Project.

“As New Mexicans, we watched reports of this wave of bird deaths with alarm. But as a U.S. senator and a scholar of biodiversity, we saw this disaster as just one link in a chain of threats to our planet’s life support system,” Senator Udall and I wrote in an op-ed in the Scientific American. The litany of attacks President Trump has unleashed on our nation’s land, water, species and environmental laws is rather long. I’m hopeful that President-elect Joe Biden will take swift action to undo the environmental rollbacks soon after he assumes office on January 20, 2021. 

In February 2020, the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) took place in Gandhinagar, India. I attended the convention. If you are curious to know more about CMS and why the United States ought to join the convention, you may read an article I wrote in the inaugural Species in Peril e-letter this year, “A ‘Wild’ Tale of Two Nations.” One of the things I learned at the UN Migratory Species Convention in India is the significance of state-level biodiversity conservation. India has a National Biodiversity Authority and, one of its significant accomplishments has been the establishment of 29 State Biodiversity Boards. India is also a party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and has a National Biodiversity Action Plan. That national plan has guided the work at the state-level; stories of some of those initiatives I learned at the Gandhinagar convention. 

The U.S. is not yet but should be a party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The U.S. does not yet but ought to have a National Biodiversity Action Plan. And, the U.S. needs transformation of its state-level wildlife management. 

To foster conversation on some of these themes as it relates to state-level wildlife management, we will be hosting our concluding webinar this Thursday, “Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S.”

I look forward to seeing you at the webinar on Thu. Dec. 3.

Be safe, be well! 

Subhankar Banerjee

Director and Founder, Species in Peril project at UNM

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