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Scientists call for migratory bird protections, end of Trump rule

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Jeff Tyson

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reaching the end of a public debate on migratory bird protections — a debate that has focused on a Trump administration-imposed restriction to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Trump rule, which the Biden administration has delayed implementing, would limit the scope of the MBTA, which has held industry liable for irresponsible actions that resulted in preventable bird deaths, such as the 1 million birds killed in the Gulf of Mexico in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The new rule would protect birds from intentional killings but not damage caused by an "incidental take" such as an oil spill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently conducting a review of the rule, and the public comment period ends March 1.


Amanda Rodewald

Amanda Rodewald

Professor; Senior Director of Conservation Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This week, Amanda Rodewald, senior director of the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, submitted a public comment as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review.

Rodewald says:

“Industry represents the largest source of human-caused mortality for migratory birds and kills up to 1 billion birds per year. The number of birds killed would have increased under the Trump administration’s rule.

“It’s heartening to see that the Biden administration is considering ways to strengthen, rather than weaken, protections for migratory birds at this critical time when so many bird populations are in steep decline. 

“I further call on the Congress to pass the Migratory Bird Protection Act, which will provide a permanent legislative fix that ensures the regulation of incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. ”

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