Groups sue over towers killing birds

Associated Press
Published May 3, 2005

PENSACOLA - Two conservation groups have refiled a lawsuit accusing the Federal Communications Commission of contributing to millions of bird deaths by failing to comply with environmental laws when licensing cellular telephone, radio, television and other towers.

Tower lighting that confuses birds at night is a particular hazard along migration routes on the Gulf Coast from Port Isabel, Texas, to Tampa Bay, the organizations said in a news release Monday.

The Forest Conservation Council of Santa Fe, N.M., and the American Bird Conservancy of Washington, D.C., first sued in 2003, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled they had given the FCC insufficient time to reply to an administrative petition.

More than two years later the FCC still has not replied to the petition, so the suit was refiled, said American Bird Conservancy spokesman Gavin Shire.

FCC spokeswoman Lauren Patrich said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The suit accuses the FCC of violating the National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act and refusing to follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines.

Those guidelines include keeping towers lower than 200 feet to avoid the need for aircraft warning lights, eliminating guy wires and using only strobe lights for towers that must be higher than 200 feet.