A Victory for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Monumental U.S. district court decision strikes down efforts to roll back protections provided by the MBTA

This week marks the 104th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which has been under threat by the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back its provisions that hold businesses accountable for bird deaths. In an August 11th ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni made it clear that the administration’s rollback of the MBTA is unlawful and overturned its 2017 legal opinion. The administration is now attempting to formalize a regulatory process that exempts “incidental” bird deaths from prosecution and reverses decades of bipartisan precedent that has protected birds from hazardous industrial practices that fail to take reasonable steps to avoid killing birds.

“Like the clear crisp notes of the Wood Thrush, today’s court decision cuts through all the noise and confusion to unequivocally uphold the most effective bird conservation law on the books—the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” said Sarah Greenberger, Interim Chief Conservation Officer for the National Audubon Society. “With today’s court decision, the administration should abandon the regulatory process it started to make this illegal bird-killing policy permanent,” said Greenberger.

The AOS thanks all those members and partners who responded to earlier requests for public comments on the proposed MBTA rule. It now remains to be seen what the next steps are by the Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Department, but we will keep you posted. Meanwhile, on Friday evening at this week’s North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC), Partners in Flight and the AOS Conservation Committee will convene a roundtable discussion, “3 Billion Birds Lost: Now What?” to share information about how anyone can play an important role in bird conservation science.

Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the United States:

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