Press Room

A Majority of Registered Voters Want Stronger Protections for Birds

As the Obama Administration considers strengthening the country's most important bird law, recent polling suggests major support.

WASHINGTON, D.C—Today, the National Audubon Society announced poll results suggesting approximately two-thirds of registered voters support regulations to reduce bird deaths caused by energy production. Sixty-five percent of registered voters nationwide would support regulations requiring wind farms to minimize harm to birds like Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. Sixty-two percent support regulations requiring powerlines to reduce electrocutions and collisions by implementing inexpensive design changes. The Department of the Interior has the opportunity to address these 21st century threats by updating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), a landmark conservation law passed in 1918.

“The Obama Administration has a chance to help protect tens of millions of birds from gruesome deaths every year,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “We have low-cost technology and the support of a strong majority of the American public. Improving the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is the obvious next step and a complete no-brainer.”

Congress passed the MBTA in 1918 in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds, which threatened egrets and other species with extirpation. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species. The law protects more than 1,000 bird species.

Interior is considering important changes in the law that would both cover new threats and give industry the guidance it needs to better protect birds. These proposed changes would make the enforcement of laws protecting birds more even-handed, while giving industry greater incentives to make their operations safer for birds. To demonstrate public support for such changes, Public Policy Polling posed the following questions to 536 registered voters in late August 2016:

Are you aware that hundreds of thousands of Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles and other birds die every year from electrocutions and collisions with powerlines? Simple design fixes to power poles and inexpensive bird-scaring devices could help avoid these needless deaths. Do you support or oppose regulations that would require these inexpensive measures to be put in place to save birds?

  • Support regulations that would require these inexpensive measures to be put in place to save birds: 62%
  • Oppose regulations that would require these inexpensive measures to be put in place to save birds: 24%
  • Not sure: 15%

Every year, hundreds of thousands of eagles and other birds die in collisions with wind turbines. Which comes closer to your view: We should deploy wind power at all costs, we should deploy wind power but should find a way to minimize damage to eagles and other birds, or we should not deploy wind power if it will kill a single eagle?

  • We should deploy wind power at all costs: 18%
  • We should deploy wind power but should find a way to minimize damage to eagles and other birds: 65%
  • We should not deploy wind power if it will kill a single eagle: 12%
  • Not sure: 5%

Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change. However, wind power facilities should be planned, sited, and operated in ways that minimize harm to birds and other wildlife.

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

This poll was made possible thanks to support from the Leon Levy Foundation.

To learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Audubon’s efforts to protect birds, please visit www.audubon.org/MBTA.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

###

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, 212-979-3068.

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”