WASHINGTON (January 15, 2020) – “We’re in a full-blown bird emergency and Congress must take the next step and pass this bill,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO, National Audubon Society (@david_yarnold) after the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee voted to report the Migratory Bird Protection Act (H.R. 5552) to the full House of Representatives. “This legislation represents the minimum of what we should be doing for birds. We’ve lost three billion birds in the last 50 years and the future is even more grim – Audubon science shows that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change. This new legislation comes at a critical time and will protect the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – a law that has saved birds Americans love, the Snowy Egret, the Sandhill Crane, and the Wood Duck. We did all that while our energy industry and broader economy flourished over the last century.” The bill was introduced last week.
This morning Audubon and 175 other conservation groups submitted a letter to committee members in support of the legislation.
In December 2017, the Administration issued a legal opinion on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that reverses the position of previous Republican and Democratic Administrations and gives a free pass to bird killing from industrial hazards, also known by a term few people recognize: “incidental take.” This bill will once again, in plain language, require industry to take proactive measures to reduce bird deaths.
“Birds don’t know about toxic waste pits and they can’t see unmarked power lines in flight’,” said Yarnold. “If the administration’s current policy were in place in 2010, BP would have faced no consequences under the MBTA for the more than one million birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
The new legislation also directs the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop a permitting process for “incidental take” through which relevant businesses would implement best management practices and document compliance, further driving innovation in how to best prevent bird deaths.
If passed, the MBPA would establish a new fee paid by industry that will increase funding for the conservation of birds impacted by these industrial hazards and an additional fund to establish a new federal research program that will study industry impacts on birds and best management practices.
Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the United States:
- Power lines: Up to 64 million birds per year (Source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101565)
- Communication towers: Up to 7 million birds per year (Source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0034025)
- Oil waste pits: 500,000 to 1 million birds per year (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16988870)
- Oil spills: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is estimated to have killed more than 1 million birds (http://www.audubon.org/news/more-one-million-birds-died-during-deepwater-horizon-disaster)
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The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using, science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.