Protect the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
What's At Stake
For more than 100 years, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has been giving millions of birds a fighting chance.
This critical law makes it illegal to kill or capture any of the more than 1,000 species listed under the act. One of the country's oldest wildlife protection laws, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is credited with rescuing the snowy egret, wood duck, and sandhill crane from extinction by ensuring those responsible for harming protected birds are held to account.
Everyday dangers—like power lines, communications towers, and oil waste pits—kill and harm tens of millions of birds every year. And then there are larger incidents. For example, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster killed more than a million birds. For violating the MBTA, the company behind the disaster, BP, paid $100 million in criminal fines that then provided critical funding for habitat restoration and preservation.
After the Trump administration—with just two weeks left in power—significantly weakened the law as a gift to the oil and gas industry, NRDC immediately got to work through continued litigation and advocacy. Then, in December 2021, the Biden administration reinstated MBTA protections and signaled a commitment to do more for bird conservation than just reversing the previous administration’s wrongs.
While correcting the wrong-headed approach of the previous administration was a critical step, it is not sufficient enough to address the startling bird declines year after year, nor combat the biodiversity crisis happening across the world. We need proactive policies and wildlife management that address the threats against birds—and shield the MBTA from future political attacks. We must protect these magnificent species and hold industries accountable.
Reporting, expert commentary, analysis, and more.
In blatant disregard to its recent court loss and over 200,000 public comments, the Trump administration is taking another swing at the bedrock environmental laws that protect Americans and our environment.
We expect the FWS to…continue to turn a blind eye toward the concerns of…former wildlife officials, researchers, and the public, instead continuing to bow to…industry’s desire to not be held accountable for millions of preventable bird deaths.
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The percentage of the world’s 11,000 bird species that are in decline