United States Fish & Wildlife Services Must Protect America's Migratory Birds
15,138 signatures toward our 50,000 Goal
Sponsor: Defenders of Wildlife
Tell USFWS to protect our nation's migratory birds from commercial interests, carelessness, and corporate greed.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is our nation's most important tool for preventing bird deaths. Now, this landmark law is under attack.
Millions of birds are killed each year by uncovered oil waste pits, power lines, and other dangers. The MBTA has been key to making sure companies take simple steps to cut down on these needless deaths - and that when their practices kill birds, they're held responsible for helping undo the damage.
That's about to change under a controversial new proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which lets those companies off the hook for the harm they cause to birds.
If they get away with betraying these birds to industrial interests, we'll see millions more preventable bird deaths - and many of those species can't take another hit before they disappear altogether.
Don't let millions of birds die. Add your voice: demand that USFWS keep critical protections for migratory birds!
I am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposed rule to codify the Department of the Interior Solicitor's Opinion (M-37050) that exempts the enforcement of incidental take from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of our nation's oldest and most successful conservation laws. Since its enactment in 1918, the MBTA has been credited with saving millions of birds and made possible the remarkable recovery of many beloved species, including the sandhill crane, snowy egret, and wood duck. Today, the law protects more than 1,000 species of migratory birds.
For decades, the MBTA has not only protected birds from intentional harm, but also from unintentional but predictable deaths from industrial activities. With millions of birds killed each year by uncovered oil waste pits, power lines, and communication towers, the MBTA has been a critical tool for incentivizing companies to develop best management practices to minimize bird deaths. Companies that did not adopt these common-sense measures could then be held liable under the law. For example, after nearly a million birds were killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP was assessed a $100 million fine that was then used to restore important bird habitat. Every Republican and Democratic administration since the 1970s has applied the MBTA in such a manner, which has saved countless numbers of songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl.
However, in December 2017, the administration abruptly reversed this longstanding policy by claiming that the MBTA does not apply to industrial activities that kill birds. A legal opinion issued by the Solicitor for the Department of the Interior declared that the law now only covers activities that kill birds on purpose, exempting all incidental take by industry from enforcement. The proposed rule seeks to cement this controversial policy into law.
As guardians of the public trust, protecting birds from needless deaths is your responsibility. I urge you to suspend this rulemaking and uphold our nation's obligations to conserve migratory birds that have been honored for over a century.