Dear: Are you seeing fewer birds around your home or bird feeders? Birds face many challenges — habitat loss, collisions, pesticides — and recently the Trump administration’s reinterpretation of the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Instead of protecting birds, now MBTA grants a free pass to destroy birds and their habitat as long as it isn’t "intentional." "Incidental" bird kills or habitat destruction require no accountability or restoration.

Recently the state of Virginia planned major construction off Chesapeake Bay that would destroy nesting grounds of 25,000 migratory birds. Consideration of building a replacement island was dropped when state officials learned that conservation measures were no longer required.

Multiply Virginia’s decision thousands of times across the country as states, counties and industries follow suit. Common sense precautions like covering oil waste pits so birds don’t mistake them for lakes, insulating small sections of electric power lines so birds don’t get electrocuted, siting wind farms away from bird migration routes, restoring bird habitat after oil spills — all past practices that helped save bird lives — are no longer a U.S. government concern.

Coincidentally, Trump’s push to open millions of acres of public lands including Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling will expose additional bird nesting areas and sanctuaries to devastation from construction and incidental spills.

The challenges to birds are great. Bird populations in North America have plummeted by 3 billion since 1970. Federal law is essential to protecting what we have left.

The Migratory Bird Protection Act (H.R. 5552) has been introduced to restore long-standing protections for birds. The bill provides a permit process for industrial activity that would include best management practices to avoid "incidental" bird kills. Ask your members of Congress to please co-sponsor the MBPA (H.R. 5552) to restore and strengthen protections for birds.

Kathy Kascewicz


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