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Trump Admin. Clips Wings of Migratory Bird Treaty Act

by Countable | 4.16.18

What’s the story?

  • The Trump administration has announced drastic rollback to the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, saying the MBTA does not prohibit the “incidental take” (killing) of birds.

How did the Act come into place?

  • Prompted by the decimation of bird populations, the 1918 law made it illegal to “hunt,” “pursue,” “capture,” or “kill” any migratory bird without a waiver.

What’s the rollback?

  • The Interior Department has issued a legal opinion specifying “the take [killing] of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited by the [MBTA] when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.”
  • “In other words,” the Washington Post explained, “accidentally killing birds — for instance, during oil spills — no longer breaks the law.”
  • The guidance also explained that it would not be breaking the law if a person destroys a structure, such as a barn, knowing that it’s full of baby owls. “All that is relevant is that the landowner undertook an action that did not have the killing of barn owls as its purpose," the opinion said.

What do you think?

Do you agree with the Interior Dept. that the current MBTA allowed for “unlimited potential for criminal prosecution”? Or does this new reading of the law allow companies to escape legal responsibility for the killing of birds? Does Congress need to revisit the MBTA? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

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(Photo Credit: ShaftInAction / iStock)


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