Action Alert: Key bird protection law is about to be gutted
July 15, 2020 — Essential parts of the nation’s most important bird protection law are about to be rolled back.
Please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tell them the rollbacks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are unacceptable. Deadline for comments is July 20.
This act is the foundation of the modern bird conservation movement and provides significant protections for native birds.
In 2018 the U.S. Department of the Interior changed the way this 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.
Among the reasons this is bad policy is that it is very difficult to prove intent in a court of law. These changes would make the law virtually unenforceable.
Under the “incidental take” changes, it would be perfectly legal to kill birds or destroy their nests as long as it wasn’t your intent to do so.
The owner of a barn with nesting Barn Swallows, for example, could demolish the barn and destroy the nests, as long as it was not the owner’s intent to harm the birds.
If a colony of terns were nesting on a beach, the owner would be allowed to rake debris off the beach, taking the nests with it, as long as the intent was to rake the beach and not destroy the nests.
A draft environmental impact statements is now under review and the Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments.
Although it’s clear that the Department of the Interior wants to make the changes, and that the rollbacks we’re asking for are a longshot, your voice is still important, but you can be assured that we will continue our work to oppose these changes. Stay tuned for additional opportunities to weigh in on potential legislative fixes for this issue as well.
Please contact the Fish and Wildlife service and ask that they halt the rollback of regulations and standards that have protected birds for more than a century. Click this link; you’ll find sample comments to work from.