By Jacob Miller
It has been 100 years since Great Britain and the United States sat down and created the Migratory Bird Treaty, and now the University of Iowa is going to celebrate its achievements.
“We hope that people in this community will come away excited about birds, about the conservation of birds, and about understanding how conservation of birds affects bigger issues that you might hear about on the news,” said Trina Roberts, the director of the Pentacrest Museums.
A 100-year celebration will take place at the UI Museum of Natural History in Macbride Hall today, hosted by the UI Office of Sustainability and the Iowa Raptor Project.
Over the course of the evening, three speakers — Professor Stan Temple of the University of Wisconsin, local falconer Joe Price, and “Talk of Iowa” (of Iowa Public Radio) host Charity Nebbe — will discuss the treaty.
David Conrads, the associate director of UI Recreational Services, said the treaty between Britain and the United States was a landmark in the efforts to protect migratory birds. He also praised Temple, who graduated and did research at Cornell University, as an important voice for endangered species.
“The Migratory Bird Treaty came about as one of the nation’s first attempts to firmly protect birds,” Temple said. “Congress tried to do it in a number of ways and ended up running into states that wanted to retain the privilege of protecting their own wildlife.”
Price said the treaty being celebrated this year to the power from Congress and gave it to the executive branch.
“The U.S. then signed the treaty, which is designed to protect birds from direct harm from people.”
He noted that in 1918, Congress passed the sneakily titled Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which made it the federal government’s — and no longer the states’ — job to protect the birds.
Price is a member of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and a falconer native to Waterloo. His bird, “Drifter,” is a red-tailed hawk and was the first artificially inseminated bird.
“In New York, [Temple and his colleagues] were looking for a red-tailed hawk to artificially inseminate, so Joe brought the bird to Cornell,” Conrads said. “At Cornell, they inseminated Drifter. Drifter produced an egg, the egg hatched, and it was the first successfully artificially inseminated bird of prey.”
The event will also be a reunion for Price and Temple; it has been more than 40 years since they have seen each other, Conrads said.
Temple said the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the anniversary of which is in two years, has been under attack lately by special-interest groups that want to weaken it. Temple said he hopes this celebration will also bring awareness to the issues written in the original treaty that are still relevant today.
The celebration will begin at 6 p.m., and after the event is over, there will be time for people to meet Temple and Price in the Hall of Birds.
The event is free to the public.