The administration continues to defend its illegal bird killing policy

“It is time to end this futile attempt to weaken the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” said Sarah Greenberger, interim chief conservation officer of the National Audubon Society. “We have lost 3 billion birds in North America in the past 50 years, and two-thirds of those birds are threatened with extinction due to climate change. It is not surprising that the administration is continuing these efforts. “

On the eve of World Migratory Birds Day (October 10, 2020), interior ministry lawyers filed an official Note that the administration intends to appeal a district court of the United States Decision earlier this yearthat the legal conception that served as the basis for the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is inconsistent with the intent and language of the law. The case was the result of a series of lawsuits filed by Audubon, several other conservation groups, and eight states in 2018.

“We are confident that the district court’s decision will be upheld, and we will continue to fight this policy of killing birds in court and through proactive legislation in both Congress and legislation in the United States,” said Greenberger. “This week only, Vermont partnered with California to establish state-level migratory bird protection to fill the void created by the Trump administration’s weakening of the MBTA. “

Northern Harrier, Copyright Mark Szantyr, from the Surfbirds Galleries

Despite losing the court earlier this year, the administration is pushing ahead with a regulatory process to make the legal opinion at the center of this legal dispute permanent in the form of regulation. The changes break decades of bipartisan precedent and state that the MBTA’s protection applies only to activities that target birds, thereby exempting all industrial hazards from enforcement. Any “accidental” death – no matter how inevitable, avoidable, or devastating to birds – becomes immune to legal enforcement.

“The government rollback has bipartisan opposition including members of Congress, more than 25 states, numerous tribal governments, academics, athletes, bird watchers and 250,000 people who have submitted comments against the proposed rule change,” Greenberger added.

A non-partisan group of more than 90 members of the US House of Representatives sponsored this Law for the Protection of Migratory Birds This would ensure the protection of the birds and instruct the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop a “random sampling” permitting process through which relevant companies would implement best management practices and document compliance to innovate in the best possible way to prevent the To advance death of birds.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a sensible law that requires companies to take basic precautions, among other things, such as: For example, cover oil pits that keep birds for bodies of water and use powerline best practices to reduce electrical shock and collisions to birds. If the government’s legal opinion had been in place in 2010, BP would not have had any consequences under the MBTA for the more than one million birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the U.S.

  • Power lines: up to 64 million birds per year (source:
  • Communication towers: up to 7 million birds per year (source:
  • Oil waste pits: 500,000 to 1 million birds per year (Source:
  • Oil Spill: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is estimated to have killed more than 1 million birds (

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