Century-Long Law that Protected Migratory Dirds Brought to an End by Trump Administration
The Trump administration came out with a decisive move last week to end a century-long law put in place to ensure the protection of birds. The law will no longer be used. Initially, it held companies and people accountable for any actions they took that resulted in the killing of the animals.
End of the MBTA
With regard to an opinion that was expressed on Wednesday last week, the federal wildlife police who are responsible for enforcing the law put out a statement. In the briefing, they said that the killing of birds that resulted from any activity was no longer forbidden by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; as long as the main agenda of the said activity was not to harm the birds in the first place.
Here’s one good example. Suppose a person decides to bring down a barn while fully aware that baby owls are present in the nest. Now, they will no longer be held liable for their deaths. All that matters is that the owner of the ban undertakes the right steps and procedures to ensure that his or her actions did not have any intent of killing the baby owls in the first place.
Companies no longer held liable
The MBTA will no longer be put into effect despite recent catastrophic events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that led to the destruction, damage, and injury of a whopping 1 million birds! So, if an oil spill takes place, the first action that will be taken is for the Interior to seek out penalties according to the Natural Damage Assessment program that is not precisely tied to birds. In retrospect, the department has repeatedly pursued MBTA claims filed against corporate companies that were directly responsible for major oil spills that incidentally led to the injury and killing of migratory birds. Now, this avenue will cease to exist.
The 1918 law was put in place after multiple species of common birds went extinct. In fact, the Audubon Society just recently named 2018 the year of the bird, honoring the MBTA’s centennial. The new step taken by the Trump administration reverses years of decisive actions carried out by Republican as well as Democrat administrations to ensure that these birds are protected as they migrate all over the world . The law effectively covered birds such as Canada geese, eagles, red knots, and vultures.
Oil Companies to benefit the most
That being said, oil companies have become the biggest winners with the termination of the law. In fact, according to an analysis carried out by the Audubon Society, oil companies were liable for over 90 percent of any incidental occurrences that were initially prosecuted under the act. Initially, they were charged a whopping $6,500 for any violation. What’s even more interesting is that two of the biggest recorded oil spills, the Deep-water Horizon in 2010 and the Exxon Valdez oil tanker accident in Alaska, constituted 97 percent of all the fines.
Furthermore, the oil waste pits that birds interpret mistakenly as ponds, have accounted for a large number of bird deaths. In fact, each year, over 500,000 to 1 million birds die in the pits that oil companies tend to leave unattended.
A step backwards in conservation
Assistant director of migratory birds at Fish and Wildlife, Paul Schmidt, said he was highly disappointed. For him, the MBTA brought 100 years of exceptional conservation leadership in the United States. It was one of the first conservation laws that was successfully passed.
Now, after 100 years, it seems that the country has taken a step backwards with regard to its conservation efforts. Despite the fact that millions of Americans have a positive view towards the caring and protection of wildlife.
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