Don’t Let Polluters Recklessly Kill Wild Birds

Target: David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior

Goal: Make companies take basic precautions to avoid needlessly killing birds.

A century-old Fish and Wildlife Service law that protects birds from industrial activities is currently under attack. Previous administrations have interpreted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to mean that it is illegal for energy companies and others to harm birds, including unintentional but predictable harm. The Trump administration has interpreted the law to only include intentional harm to birds, meaning that companies are not required to plan their operations so that birds aren’t accidentally harmed. The administration has already halted investigations into bird deaths and encouraged local governments to stop protections for birds.

This misinterpretation of the act could soon expand into a new rule. The Department of the Interior is planning to officially change this act to make it legal for companies to neglect environmental planning to protect birds. This means large companies won’t have to keep toxic materials in closed containers, space out electrical wires, or take other precautions to prevent bird deaths.

In order to change this act, the Fish and Wildlife Service has drafted an Environmental Impact Statement that will become final in the fall. The drafted statement recognizes the negative consequences for birds as well as the economic benefits for corporations. Surely, preserving wildlife is more important than cutting costs for corporations. According to a report in Science, 3 billion birds have been lost since 1970. Even more bird population decline would result from removing incidental harm from the act.

Changing this act could result in the endangerment of many bird species, since companies won’t be required to avoid predictable bird deaths. Sign the petition to ask that birds continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


Dear Secretary Bernhardt,

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is intended to protect birds from harm, both intentional and predictable accidental harm. Changing this act to exclude unintentional harm will have severe effects on bird populations and the ecosystems they are part of. Scientists say the bird population has already been reduced drastically in the past 50 years. Ending protections from incidental harm will result in even higher rates of bird decline.

Energy companies must plan their operations to minimize harm to wildlife, including birds. Neglecting to protect wildlife will result in the endangerment of many bird species. I urge you to protect birds from unintentional harm and not to change the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kate Perez

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