ROSEVILLE, MN -- Anticipating that a large population of Minnesota waterfowl will be flying to the Gulf coast this fall, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar convened a group of Minnesota waterfowl experts to assess the potential impact of the BP oil spill and what can be done to protect migratory birds and their habitats.
"As the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota is home to more than a million waterfowl, including loons, ducks and geese," said Klobuchar. "Although they spend their summers here, many of these birds migrate to winter nesting grounds along the Gulf of Mexico. With the BP oil spill, there are serious concerns these birds could be headed for trouble during their migration this fall."
Klobuchar added: "We obviously can't put up a big net at the Iowa border to stop the birds from flying south for the winter. But we can plan in advance to reduce the immediate risk of harm they face from the oil spill, while also preparing for the long-term challenge of restoring the waterfowl habitats along the Gulf Coast."
Klobuchar said she does not want taxpayers stuck with the bill for the extra costs associated with bird habitat and wildlife protection due to the oil spill. She wants to make sure these costs are paid for through the $20 billion BP Oil Spill Victims Compensation Fund.
Klobuchar said she also wants to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have a coordinated, effective response to protect the migratory bird population.
A member of the Senate Environment Committee, Klobuchar is cosponsoring legislation to lift the $75 million liability limit that currently exists for offshore oil spills. She has also introduced legislation that would authorize subpoena power for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The bipartisan commission is investigating the causes of the oil spill.
Joining Klobuchar for the discussion at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville were Phil Jenni, Executive Director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; Ryan Heiniger, Director of Conservation Programs in Minnesota and Iowa, Ducks Unlimited; John Christian, Assistant Regional Director for Migratory Birds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Carrol Henderson, Supervisor of the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Mark Martell, Director of Bird Conservation, Minnesota Audubon; and Juli Ponder, Executive Director of The Raptor Center.