AWI Urges Department of Interior to Halt Plan to Weaken Migratory Bird Protections

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January 11, 2018

Washington, DC— The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke today requesting that the Department of Interior (DOI) halt its plan to eliminate certain protections for migratory birds.

The plan, released by the DOI in late December, would reverse the 2017 policy that clarified the scope of prohibited activities under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to include “incidental take” (accidental killing) of migratory birds.

In reaction to this policy reversal, Cathy Liss, AWI president, stated:

Millions of birds die each year from electrocutions, chemicals, collisions with structures, and other man-made causes. The MBTA is intended to protect these birds, not protect industry interests. These unnatural threats are becoming increasingly prevalent with spreading development, and are putting many vulnerable species at further risk of extinction.

With this drastic and incorrect reinterpretation of the MBTA, the current administration is favoring industry at the expense of vulnerable wildlife.

We hope Secretary Zinke will retract this policy change, both for the sake of America’s valued wildlife and of sound legal interpretation of the law.

A 2016 poll conducted by the National Audubon Society found that 62 percent of registered voters support regulations requiring powerlines to reduce electrocutions and collisions by implementing inexpensive design changes. Sixty-five percent of respondents also indicated support for regulations requiring that wind farms minimize harm to birds.

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI)