Migratory Birds: Greater Vulnerability under Trump Administration’s Policies on Incidental Take and Habitat

Carol J. Miller

Thousands of birds migrate, impervious to whether they are crossing state or international lines and whether the water bodies or electric poles on which they land pose a life-threatening potential. More than half of North American birds migrate. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. §§ 703–12, is one of the oldest U.S. laws aimed at protecting a migratory species. The MBTA was passed in 1918 to implement the 1916 Convention Between the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds, art. I, 39 Stat. 1702, T.S. No. 628 (1916). Under the Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) administers the implementation of the MBTA. The Trump administration’s 2018 proposals reinterpret the MBTA so that incidental take permits would not be required, and critical habitat would see less protection under the Endangered Species Act––increasing risks for migratory birds.

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