Act Before December 28 to Protect Birds

The Trump administration is moving swiftly to rollback a bedrock bird protection that would allow companies to "incidentally" kill scores of birds with little to no consequences. The Administration seeks to publish a final rule modifying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s interpretation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, removing some critical protections granted to birds.

The act protects more than 1,000 bird species from the "accidental" killing during companies' operations by fining the companies responsible. And it's made a difference: From the wood duck to the sandhill crane, the act has saved some of our nation's most precious birds from extinction.

The Washington Post reports that “The act prohibits unauthorized “take” of protected bird species — regulatory-speak for hunting, killing, capturing, selling or otherwise hurting the animals. For three years, officials at the Interior Department have sought to exclude accidental deaths from the “take” definition, shielding energy companies, construction firms and land developers from prosecution if their operations “incidentally” kill birds.” If finalized, it would set in stone the Interior’s Department’s current, narrow view of the law — making the policy easier for companies to understand but also making it more difficult for future administrations to reverse.” The proposed rule change is now open for a 30-day review period, which ends December 28.

Each year, human activities are already the cause of millions of accidental bird deaths. A study published last year in the journal Science says more than a quarter of the entire bird population disappeared over the last half-century — that's a loss of nearly 3 billion birds in the past 50 years. Yet, the administration's proposed rule change would give energy, construction and development companies carte blanche to kill birds during their operations. 

Here's an example provided by Environment Illinois: “Migratory birds such as hawks, owls and songbirds are at risk of mistaking uncovered oil pits for ponds, getting trapped and dying in the dirty oil. This rule would remove any consequences companies face for killing birds in their uncovered oil pits -- incentivizing them to carry on with potentially bird-killing business as usual.”

Join us and voice your opposition by December 28: Don’t let companies kill birds.