Renowned International Wildlife Expert Joins
American Bird Conservancy
Dr. Michael Hutchins to Oversee Wind Energy Campaign
Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,
(Washington, DC, October 30, 2013) Dr. Michael Hutchins, an international authority on wildlife conservation, management, and policy who has authored over 220 scholarly and popular articles and books on wildlife issues, has joined the staff of American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and will oversee the organization’s Bird-Smart wind energy campaign.
“We are thrilled that Michael is joining our team and excited to have his considerable talents focused on the challenges associated with making wind a Bird-Smart energy source,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of ABC, which is one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.
“ABC is a difference-maker in the world of bird conservation. They focus their energies on initiatives that deliver results and they have a clarity of mission and organizational determination to succeed that greatly appeals to me,” Dr. Hutchins said.
As wind campaign coordinator, he will lead ABC’s national efforts to make wind developments Bird-Smart and minimize the impact of this rapidly expanding energy source on bird populations. ABC’s work on Bird-Smart wind is supported by the Leon Levy Foundation.
A recent study found that as of 2012, about 573,000 bird fatalities were occurring from wind turbines in the United States. At the time, 22,000 turbines were in operation representing 25GW of installed capacity, a fraction of the 300GW of production capacity needed to achieve the federal government’s goal of meeting 20 percent of our electrical needs through wind power by 2030. By then, wind turbines are expected to be killing at least one million birds each year, and probably significantly more, depending on the final scale of wind build-out. Wind farms are also expected to impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat and more than 4,000 square miles of marine habitat by 2030, some of this critical to threatened species.
Some of the most iconic and vulnerable American birds are at risk from wind industry expansion unless this expansion is carefully planned and implemented. Onshore, these include Golden Eagles, Whooping Cranes, sage-grouse, prairie-chickens, and many migratory songbirds. Offshore, Brown Pelicans, Northern Gannets, sea ducks, loons, and terns are at risk, among other birds.
Hutchins most recently served as the Executive Director/CEO of the Wildlife Society (one of the world’s premier organization’s representing wildlife professionals) beginning in 2005 and served in that capacity until 2012, when he retired. During his tenure, membership grew almost 40 percent. As the CEO, he was responsible for goal setting, strategic planning, personnel management, fundraising, and finance.
He began his career with the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo where he served first as a curatorial intern in the Zoo's Department of Mammalogy. He was later promoted to conservation biologist and coordinator of research after graduating with his PhD in 1984 from the University of Washington in Seattle following studies of an introduced population of Rocky Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) in Olympic National Park, Washington. Dr. Hutchins spent 15 years as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’(AZA) Director/Willliam Conway Endowed Chair for Conservation and Science and was responsible for overseeing AZA’s Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, scientifically managed breeding program for endangered species. AZA is the premier organization representing more than 230 accredited zoos and aquariums and 6,000 professionals.
Included among Dr. Hutchins’ many notable career accomplishments are:
- He helped negotiate with representatives of the Chinese government the Giant Panda Conservation Plan, which eventually brought pandas to the United States on long-term loans that support in situ conservation in China.
- Dr. Hutchins served on Disney's Animal Kingdom/Worldwide Conservation Fund Advisory Board, which had a major impact on the direction of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Wildlife Conservation Fund projects, as well as other aspects of Disney operations (e.g., sustainable seafood initiative).
- From 1999-2005, Dr. Hutchins served as chair and co-chair of the board for the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, a multi-organizational consortium of major zoological institutions and conservation organizations formed to educate the news media and key decision-makers in government about the growing illegal commercial trade in wildlife for meat in Africa.
- Organized a meeting of experts on elephant captive management, field biology and conservation that resulted in his co-authoring an 84-page report that laid out a series of options for consideration by the AZA Board of Directors and the directors of elephant holding institutions. The report provided an initial impetus for the many improvements in captive elephant management that are currently underway.
- In 1995, Dr. Hutchins organized and moderated a series of three meetings in Denver, Colo., at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze and make recommendations for the future of black-footed ferret recovery. The resulting detailed plan provided the basis for ferret recovery for the next half-decade or more.
- While at the Wildlife Society, Dr. Hutchins helped organize and conduct a series of four planning meetings across the United States to obtain expert input into the purposes and design of a National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. His efforts included writing and editing the final 39-page summary report on recommendations and outreach.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.