Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of the Interior today announced it is halting efforts to finalize key protective measures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—the nation’s landmark law for conserving migratory bird species.  

“It is well known that our nation’s migratory bird populations are plummeting, so today’s news that Department of the Interior is halting efforts to promulgate a rule to address preventable sources of mortality is profoundly disappointing,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “With the escalating loss of biodiversity we are experiencing both nationwide and globally, it’s tough to watch the agencies charged with saving wildlife sit on the sidelines while migratory bird populations continue their downward spiral.” 

The Biden administration first began working on a rulemaking that would establish a permitting program to clarify how incidental take would be managed under the MBTA more than two years ago. The proposed rulemaking had been with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for several months leading many to hope that it might be finalized in the near future. 

“In pulling back on this rulemaking, DOI effectively renders any hope of progress in this administration a moot point.  Despite this setback we will continue to fight to protect these increasingly imperiled populations of birds,” Clark said.    

The MBTA has enjoyed more than a century of success and following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill led to $100 million in criminal fines being levied against British Petroleum for its violations. Those funds were ultimately used for cleanup and habitat restoration along the Gulf Coast. More than a million birds died in the four years after that spill.  

Leading scientists have warned that nearly three billion birds have disappeared from North America since 1970 meaning more than one in four birds have been lost in less than a single human lifespan. 

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit https://defenders.org/newsroom or follow us on X @Defenders.


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