Biden administration reverses rule that gutted protections for migratory birds

The "now-defunct rule" will continue to protect birds from incidental take and other activities specifically intended to kill birds.

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The Biden administration announced it will reverse a Trump administration rule under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) that would have limited protections for more than 1,000 species of migratory birds. The “now-defunct rule” will continue to protect birds from incidental take and other activities specifically intended to kill birds.

Incidental take, for example, is allowing birds to drown in uncovered oil pits, but under the Biden administration “a proposed rulemaking to establish formal policies for regulating incidental take” will be put in place, according to a press release.

“The Trump administration’s rule was disastrous when it was enacted and it’s a huge relief to see it buried for good,” Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said. “We need the full protections of the MBTA at this crucial moment in time when so many bird populations are in peril. It’s a great day for bird lovers everywhere!”

The Biden administration will also issue “a Director’s Order providing guidance for assessing when an activity violates the MBTA,” according to a press release.

“We now expect the Biden administration to really cement this victory by creating a robust permitting program for incidental take,” Clark said.

Many wildlife advocates and animal rights activists call it a critical win for wildlife since scientists have determined that bird populations have decreased by 3 billion since 1970, while many species are threatened by climate change.

“We look forward to working with the administration to create a scientifically sound pathway for permitting under the law that will both conserve birds and provide greater certainty and efficient permitting for regulated stakeholders,” Clark said.

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