Audubon Urges Advancement of a Proposed Rule to Strengthen Implementation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Audubon expresses disappointment in the rulemaking delay and commits to working with the Biden Administration to provide a win-win for birds and businesses.
Rufous Hummingbird. Photo: Jace Stenersen/Audubon Photography Awards

WASHINGTON (December 1, 2023) -- The Biden Administration has delayed the release of a proposed rule that would strengthen the implementation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The National Audubon Society expressed disappointment in the delay but looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to move the rule forward as soon as possible.  

“Strengthening the implementation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would benefit birds that are facing increasing climate change impacts and habitat loss and provide certainty for businesses that employ common-sense measures to reduce avoidable harm to birds,” said Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer of the National Audubon Society. “We are disappointed in this delay but remain undaunted in our resolve to work with the administration to advance a strong rule that reflects the needs of migratory bird conservation at a time of declining populations and increasing threats.” 

The MBTA is America’s most important bird conservation law. For decades, it has provided critical protections for birds, including from industrial hazards like toxic wastewater pits. These protections have been reasonably implemented by Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. Yet in 2017, the Trump Administration illegally rolled back the MBTA’s protections by allowing unchecked bird mortality from industrial harm such as oil spills or poorly sited and designed infrastructure.  

These foundational protections were restored by the Biden Administration, but continuing avoidable bird mortality, compounded by factors like habitat loss, demonstrates the need to clarify and improve the implementation of the MBTA. According to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the MBTA’s longstanding protections from “incidental take”, such as avoidable industrial hazards, would be codified, and it would provide regulatory certainty to industry by allowing businesses that use practices to help avoid, minimize, and compensate for harm to birds to apply for a permit under the MBTA.   

“We have lost three billion birds since 1970, and climate change threatens two-thirds of the continent’s bird species. We have an imperative to build out our clean energy infrastructure to reduce planet-warming emissions to protect both communities and wildlife,” said Johnson. “In order to meet these goals, we need updated standards that allow industries to move nimbly enough to meet the moment, while still building projects responsibly. These proposed rules would provide needed clarity on reasonable sector-wide standards for industry and can be a win-win for birds and businesses. We look forward to working with the administration to finish the job on this important rulemaking effort and urge swift action.”  

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters. North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

Media Contact: Robyn Shepherd,