April 12th, 2017
Scientists estimate that each year 6.8 million birds, primarily Nearctic-Neotropical migrants, collide with U.S. and Canadian communications towers during migration. Weather, tower location, height, lighting, and tower support system influence the numbers of avian collisions. Dr. Joelle Gehring, Federal Communications Commission biologist will present her work studying the relationships between tower variables and bird collisions. Based on her work with the FCC, the Federal Aviation Administration changed their tower lighting recommendations to systems that eliminate non-flashing lights, reduce tower lighting and maintenance costs to the industry, and reduce migratory bird collisions by as much as 70%. The project emphasizes the importance of including stakeholders and scientists in policy implementation.
Dr. Joelle Gehring is the Biologist for the Federal Communications Commission where she works with tower operators to minimize bird collisions with communications towers and potential impacts to threatened and endangered species. She is a member of the Federal Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds and on the Steering Committee for Partners in Flight. Previously, Dr. Gehring was Senior Conservation Scientist with Michigan Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University where she designed and supervised a multi-year, landscape scale study of the variables associated with bird collisions at communications towers. Dr. Gehring completed her Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology at Purdue University, M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources at West Virginia University, and her B.S., in both Biology and Wildlife Management at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.