Audubon Wins Lawsuit Upholding the MBTA

From the National Audubon Society:

Great news for birds.
National Audubon Society
Great Egret.
Victory! Federal Judge Overturns Bird-Killing Policy
Great news for birds! In 2018, Audubon, several other conservation groups, and eight states filed lawsuits challenging the U.S. Department of the Interior’s elimination of longstanding bird protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Yesterday, a federal court threw out the administration’s rollback of the MBTA, ruling the policy is contrary to the foundational 100-year-old bird protection law.

In 2017, the Department of the Interior overturned decades of bipartisan precedent to say that the MBTA’s protections apply only to activities that purposefully kill birds. The court ruled yesterday that this interpretation was “contrary to the plain meaning of the MBTA.” For context, if the administration’s legal opinion had been in place in 2010, BP would have faced no consequences under the MBTA for the more than one million birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This reality is underscored by the judge’s own words from the opening of the ruling: “It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime. That has been the letter of the law for the past century. But if the Department of the Interior has its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence.”

We may have won National Audubon Society v. Department of the Interior, but the long fight isn’t over yet—Congress must pass the permanent legislative fix to protect the MBTA from being weakened through administrative and regulatory changes. Take action today by asking your U.S. Representative to defend the MBTA from further rollback attempts by passing the Migratory Bird Protection Act.

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Great Egret. Photo: Michael Fahn/Audubon Photography Awards