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Conservation Groups Press Congress to Restore Migratory Bird Protections

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Conservation groups are pushing for passage of a bill in Congress that would revive migratory bird protections dropped during the Trump administration.

Last year, Trump's Fish and Wildlife Service lifted a rule, which said companies that kill birds in the course of business, called an incidental take, would have to change their practices and/or pay for habitat restoration somewhere else.

Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel for Defenders of Wildlife, said the Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2021 would reinstate those requirements, and not a moment too soon.

"In North America since 1970, we've lost more than three billion birds," Rylander explained. "And so every legal protection that we have to help protect migratory bird populations is essential. "

The biggest incidental bird kill in recent years happened after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when BP was forced to pay $100 million for killing more than a million birds.

Examples of other operations that can kill birds include windmills, solar farms, oil-covered pit lakes and water contaminated by tailings from mining sites.

Rylander would like the Biden administration to create a new permit system to protect birds and give companies regulatory certainty.

"And then the Fish and Wildlife Service would have the opportunity to use its expertise to ensure that project, if it moves forward, does so in the most environmentally sensitive manner," Rylander contended.

The Biden administration has started the process of lifting the rule administratively, but the bill, House Resolution 4833, would make it harder for any future administration to give business a free pass to kill birds.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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