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Home  |   Our Work  |   Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Defending birds from exploitation; New threats weaken protections

Letter Zinke

Harken back a hundred years ago. Plume hunters were slaughtering countless birds to fill a market for fashion accessories. Under intense pressure from bird lovers and the National Audubon Society, Congress created a landmark legal conservation effort: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918.

"The MBTA provides that it is unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, possess, sell, purchase, barter, import, export, or transport any migratory bird, or any part, nest, or egg or any such bird, unless authorized under a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior. Some regulatory exceptions apply. Take is defined in regulations as: 'pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.' "

- United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The treaty protects about 1,000 bird species. Here's the complete list.

Fast forward to 2017. New pressures to relax key elements of the treaty surfaced under President Donald Trump's new administration. Resistance to any changes to the treaty have been met with pressure from wildlife groups like International Bird Rescue and the Lindsay Wildlife Experience. The groups co-wrote a protest letter addressed to the Secretary of Interior.

"Rolling back protections of such historical pedigree should be discussed and debated at length, in a bipartisan fashion. Instead, the MBTA is now at risk of being eviscerated with very little deliberation, and industries that engage in activities that routinely kill millions of migratory birds celebrate the contrived loophole that weakens environmental protections viewed as regulatory burdens."

- Letter to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, dated January 31, 2018 from Lindsay Museum Experience and International Bird Rescue

More reading:

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Explained, Audubon Society

Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, Wikipedia

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