Connecticut Audubon supports the new Migratory Bird Protection Act
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February 12 Update: Great news from 2 of Connecticut’s Congressional Districts: Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Jahana Hayes have become co-sponsors of HR 5552.
January 10, 2020 – A new version of the Migratory Bird Protection Act introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives would halt the recent rollback of regulations and standards that have protected birds for a century.
The Connecticut Audubon Society is strongly supporting the legislation and is urging Connecticut’s House members to become co-sponsors.
Please let your Representative know that you would like him or her to co-sponsor the bill.
The new legislation (H.R 5552) is necessary because in 2018 the U.S. Department of the Interior changed the way the law was enforced. The department said it would no longer be a violation to “incidentally” kill birds during the course of doing business. Only “intentional harm” would count.
This meant that if birds died during a construction or mining project, for example, companies or individuals would be responsible only if they meant to kill the birds.
If a company repairing a highway bridge destroyed a Peregrine Falcon’s nest, it would be responsible only if the intent of the work was to destroy the nest.
If a gravel mining company wiped out a colony of Bank Swallows, it would be responsible only if the intent was to destroy the colony.
If a municipality raked a beach in mid summer and destroyed a colony of Least Terns, it would be responsible only if the intent was to destroy the colony.
Until the recent reinterpretation, the Migratory Bird law was incredibly successful in mitigating and minimizing harmful incidental takes of migratory birds and was among the most important and successful pieces of legislation protecting wildlife in the country.
The new law would restore the original standards. It would also allow companies to take steps to protect birds and therefore avoid penalties for “incidental take.” Audubon has published a comprehensive explanation of the new legislation, and the New York Times published an article in December that serves as an explanation of why the new legislation is essential.
Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins sent the following letter today to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Jim Himes, Rep. John Larson, Rep. Joe Courtney, and Rep. Jahana Hayes.
I am writing today on behalf of the Connecticut Audubon Society to request that [you] sign on as a cosponsor of an important piece of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5552, the Migratory Bird Protection Act. This act would restore important protections for migratory birds by amending the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to affirm that the Act’s prohibition on the unauthorized take or killing of migratory birds includes incidental take by commercial activities, and to direct the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to regulate such incidental take.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act has been a cornerstone of bird conservation efforts since its passage in 1918. It was recently weakened considerably by the Department of Interior’s opinion that the act only covers intentional harm to migratory birds. This reversed a decades long policy of enforcing incidental take by requiring businesses to minimize the killing of native birds through the course of their business activities.
The act has been incredibly successful in mitigating and minimizing harmful incidental takes of migratory birds and has been among the most important and successful pieces of legislation protecting wildlife in the country.
Because this issue is so important to our members, we will be asking them to contact your office to show their support for this legislation. We hope that the Congresswoman will join a bipartisan coalition of representatives by cosponsoring and supporting this critical piece of legislation. Thank you so much for your consideration.
Patrick M. Comins