Killing Migratory Birds Has Been a Crime for Decades. Not Anymore.

Trump's Interior Dept no longer protects migratory birds, because they "reinterpreted" the law and treaty to please energy companies.

... killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters.

First enacted to implement a 1916 treaty with Canada, the 1918 law was written to protect migratory birds—as well as their nests, eggs and even feathers—from being captured, sold or killed “at any time, or in any manner.” Similar treaties were signed by the governments of Mexico, Japan and the Soviet Union, now Russia, and included in the law.

Millions of birds die every year due to waste pits for mines and oil fields, electric power lines, wind turbines, communications towers and commercial fishing. The threat of prosecutions and fines was a powerful tool to encourage industries to figure out ways to avoid killing birds. Oil companies put nets over waste pits. Electric companies separated wires so eagles and other raptors wouldn’t get electrocuted. Fishing crews put weights on the long lines so birds wouldn’t get drowned when they dove for the bait. 

Scientists caution that weakening the Migratory Bird Treaty Act imperils many types of birds that are endangered or declining in numbers, and it also eliminates an important source of wetlands restoration funding: penalties paid by violators.

Restored wetlands help bolster fish and shellfish, clean water and protect people from big storms.

Doing away with the fines “actually could be putting other communities at risk from storm surges and other negative environmental impacts,”...

...Trump’s interior secretary nominee, David Bernhardt ... pushed a December 2017 legal opinion that declared the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only when companies kill birds on purpose.

... evidence of federal wildlife agents opting out of investigations and enforcement, citing that policy change as the reason. [emphasis mine, order changed]

Up to a million birds per year die just in oil pits. So if your oil pit wasn't intentionally constructed for the purpose of slaughtering thousands of migratory snow geese, then no problem. Flags do nothing, nets would help.

‘I saw more dead birds in that one pit than hunters would poach’

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