Clear and Present Dangers

The MBTA is updated to address modern threats to birds.

We’re about to see the most significant changes in more than half a century to the most important regulations that cover birds. At 97 years, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is among the oldest wildlife protection laws on the books. Its creation was one of the National Audubon Society’s first major victories, and in the years since its enactment, the MBTA has saved millions, if not billions, of birds from depredatory human activities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced that it will be strengthening the implementation of the act to better protect birds from modern-day threats to ensure that the MBTA remains as powerful and effective as possible.

Every day countless death traps across America needlessly kill birds in horrible ways, from electrocution to drowning in oil. We’re talking about millions and millions of birds every year. According to USFWS estimates, power lines kill up to 175 million birds annually. Communications towers cause as many as 50 million deaths, and uncovered oil waste pits account for up to an additional 500,000 to 1 million. Data on wind turbines are harder to come by, but current estimates hover at about 300,000 bird fatalities a year.

The slaughter that goes on today is senseless—and preventable. We have the technology and the tools to make man-made structures and industrial sites safer for birds. It’s time to put that technology and those tools to work. Protecting wildlife is a deeply held American value, and we know that when we do the right things for birds, we’re doing the right things for people, too.

Go to and send a message to the USFWS today to support this critical action.