In the fall of 2005, the Directors of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that to ensure that the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) of the USGS maintains and continues its important support of conservation and management of birds, it should be guided by a clear vision for the future. In order to carry out this task, they impaneled a fourteen-member Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) on the Bird Banding Laboratory. It was made up of representatives of the broad bird-banding community, public and private, and was cochaired by a senior representative from each agency. The Committee met four times and a writing subgroup met three times over the course of its work.
The Committee identified a new vision and mission for the BBL and identified six goals that it believes should be integral to the development of a strategic plan to achieve them. Those goals are:
1. Facilitate the identification of individual birds through marking.
2. Create automated, electronic systems that efficiently verify, accept, store, and manage data associated with individually marked birds.
3. Facilitate access to and use of data from marked birds for science, conservation, and management.
4. Administer permits in an efficient, timely, and modern manner, and use them to ensure that bird welfare and data quality remain top priorities.
5. Work closely with national and international partners to achieve the mission of the BBL.
6. Manage the BBL in an efficient, cost-effective manner to maximize use of available resources.
Most of the report is structured around these goals.
The Committee made 2 programmatic recommendations and identified 23 objectives and 58 specific recommendations. The programmatic recommendations are: (1) that the primary role of the BBL is and should continue to be to support the use of banding and banding data by researchers and managers engaged in science, conservation, and management of birds, and not to play a lead role in original research; and (2) that the BBL be managed nationally by USGS headquarters as a research and operational support unit and provided with the resources appropriate to its national and international
functions and responsibilities; it should continue to be located physically at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC).
In order to achieve its vision and mission, the Committee believes that the BBL must work towards achieving all of the recommendations in this report. Nevertheless, it identified five objectives
that stand out as high priority, and they are as follows:
*Objective 1.1?to ensure a continuing, adequate supply of high-quality, Federally issued numeric bands of required sizes, materials, and types;
*Objective 2.1?to improve mechanisms for verifying, accepting, storing, and managing bird-banding data;
*Objective 2.3?to accommodate recapture data;
*Objective 4.1?to ensure through the permitting process that banders know how to safely handle birds, collect data accurately, and maintain birds in humane and healthful conditions; and
*Objective 5.3?to encourage the development of banding programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Finally, this Committee believes that the BBL will be well served if it continues to support a Federal Advisory Committee, composed similarly to this one, to continue offering guidance and direction from the broad bird-banding community.