With a Simple Change to Policy, Trump Doomed Millions of Birds to Die

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: President Trump, Fish and Wildlife Service
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918 was a groundbreaking law passed at a pivotal moment in American history -one where, thankfully, our leaders chose to protect our natural heritage over money. Birds like the snowy egret and others were being hunted to extinction for their feathers and policy makers recognized that if something wasn't done quickly, the beautiful bird would disappear like the passenger pigeon had just a few years before.

Demand that the Trump administration reinstate protections for migratory birds.

Under the MBTA, businesses and other entities could be subject to a whopping $15,000 per bird killed in the course of construction, operation, or in an accident. Anything from powerline, wind turbine, or oil spill deaths could land you in hot water with the federal government.

But Trump has decided that this law, which had been in place for more than 100 years, needed to be so tweaked that it no longer has any bite. Now, as long as an organization "didn't intend" to kill the birds, they can no longer be held liable by the federal government.

Under Trump's amended MBTA, a developer could bulldoze an acre of trees knowing that birds were currently nesting there. As long as killing the birds wasn't its motive for doing so, the developer could get away scot free.

This is a dangerous new change to the MBTA that could end in disaster. Already, birds in North America are struggling to survive. Since 1970, Canada and the United States have lost nearly three billion adult-aged birds. And with the news that more than a million animal species could go extinct within our lifetime, officials should be passing more protections - not loosening the ones we already have.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Trump's detoothing of the MBTA has already had serious ramifications. Prior to the change, companies and state and local governments were required to report bird deaths caused by their operations. They were also obliged to take steps to mitigate any probable destruction to bird habitat. A project to build a new onramp in a bird nesting area would have previously required developers to, for example, build a protected island which could replace the land destroyed by the construction. Now that is no longer the case. Thus, at least a dozen bird-preservation efforts have been canceled now that organizations no longer have to worry about the consequences of killing protected birds. And more will follow.

This is a shame and a dereliction of duty on the part of the Trump administration.
Please join Care2, stand up for bird conservation and the MBTA, and sign now to demand that the new policy "clarification" be rescinded.
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