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Monday, December 25, 2000

End to bombing
urged for Western
Pacific island

Star-Bulletin staff

A mainland conservation group wants the Navy to stop blasting a small Western Pacific island for training purposes.

The Center for Biological Diversity, represented by the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, filed suit against the Navy in Washington, D.C. The group said the bombing and shelling of Farallon de Medinilla violates the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Navy here had no immediate comment. A spokesman said the Navy is researching the matter.

The uninhabited 200-acre island, 45 nautical miles north of Saipan, is a breeding ground for dozens of species of migratory birds, and shelling and bombing the island kills birds, Earthjustice said. "The continued bombing and destruction of rare and migratory birds on FDM is an ecological travesty and is an embarrassment to our nation," said Peter Galvin, a center biologist. "We urge the court to uphold the law and halt the bombing."

The island is a nesting ground for great frigate birds; masked, red-footed and brown boobys; red- and white-tailed tropicbirds; white and sooty terns; brown and black noodys and other species of seabirds, the environmentalists said. It is also said to be a dwelling place for the Micronesian megapode and the Marianas fruit bat, both listed as endangered species.

The center claims the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned down a Navy request for a permit to use the island in 1996, and the Navy then argued the migratory-bird act does not apply to federal agencies.

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