Protect the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
What's At Stake
As bird lovers all around the world celebrate over 100 years of conservation under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this critical law—and all the birds it protects—is at risk.
This safeguard makes it illegal to kill or injure any of the more than 1,000 bird species listed under the act. One of the country's oldest wildlife protection laws, the MBTA has saved millions of birds every year and is credited with rescuing the snowy egret, wood duck, and sandhill crane from extinction.
But the Trump administration significantly weakened the law to allow companies to get away with preventable bird deaths—and no matter how egregious the act. Everyday dangers, like power lines, communications towers, and oil waste ponds can kill or harm tens of millions of birds every year. And then there are larger incidents. For example, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster killed more than a million birds—and BP paid $100 million in criminal fines for violating the MBTA. Under the latest interpretation by the U.S. Department of the Interior, industries will no longer be held accountable.
Birds don't recognize borders, and so desperately need federal protections. They also provide a great benefit to us—pollinating crops, boosting tourism, and keeping ecosystems in balance. We must save these magnificent species and hold industries accountable.
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In blatant disregard to its recent court loss and over 200,000 public comments, the Trump administration is taking another swing at the bedrock environmental laws that protect Americans and our environment.
President Trump has now taken away any accountability for industry bad actors by limiting prosecution only to situations of intentional bird killing. The administration calls this a “clarification” of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In fact, it is a direct reversal of the clear statutory language of this century-old law.
We expect the Fish and Wildlife Service to fast-track the rulemaking and continue to turn a blind eye toward the concerns of members of Congress, former wildlife officials, researchers, and the public, instead continuing to bow to the oil and gas industry’s desire to not be held accountable for millions of preventable bird deaths.
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The percentage of the world’s 11,000 bird species that are in decline