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 has 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.