Press Room

Distinguished Group of Senators Stands Up in Defense of Key Bird Law

Ten Senators urge Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect birds and interpret the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the same manner as administrations from both parties the past 40 years.

WASHINGTON — “While millions of birds are embarking on their spring migration across North America, ten Senate leaders are standing up for them in Washington,” said Sarah Greenberger, Audubon's senior vice president of conservation policy, in response to a letter signed by ten U.S. Senators urging the Secretary of the Interior to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in a way that protects birds from incidental deaths as well as intentional deaths.

“Birds face too many challenges today to weaken the most important bird conservation law we have. The MBTA brings states, conservation groups, industry and other stakeholders together to find common-sense solutions that protect the birds that millions of Americans love. We greatly appreciate the leadership from Senator Carper, Senator Booker and others for speaking up for birds and the places they need.”

In addition to Senator Tom Carper of Delaware and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, other signers included Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Three days before last Christmas, the Office of the Solicitor within the Department of the Interior released an opinion saying it will no longer enforce the MBTA in cases of incidental bird deaths, effectively giving a blank check to industry to avoid gruesome and preventable bird deaths.

The MBTA is one of the Audubon Society and the American conservation movement’s earliest victories, and has protected millions if not billions of birds in its century-long history. Congress passed the MBTA in 1918 in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds, which threatened egrets and other species with extinction. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species.

Today, this law protects birds from 21st-century threats by bringing together industry, government and conservation organizations to implement best-management practices. Commonsense solutions like covering oil pits and flagging transmission lines protect countless birds each year from otherwise needless deaths.

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

Audubon is asking its 1.2 million members and supporters to urge their members of Congress to defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, 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 how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, (212) 979-3100.

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