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Udall Statement on Trump Interior Department Weakening Migratory Bird Treaty Act

January 30, 2020

Udall: “We should be acting to stop climate change and protect species from habitat loss—not greenlighting more destruction of wildlife”

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, spoke out on the news that the Trump Department of the Interior will permanently weaken the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act with a regulation that will stop enforcement of so-called “incidental” takes, or instances in which industry practices kill protected bird species. The move enshrines a legally suspect 2017 DOI solicitor’s opinion

“I’m deeply disturbed to hear that the Trump Interior Department is taking formal steps to upend 100 years’ worth of bipartisan precedent, undercutting both federal law and a landmark international treaty that protects birds that are now under increasing threat from climate change and loss of habitat. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act plainly states it is illegal to ‘hunt, take, capture, kill…by any means whatsoever…at any time or in any manner…’ the birds protected under the act. Absolving industry of any penalties for the predictable deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds each year by deeming them all unintentional is both absurd and wrong. 

“Let’s be clear: today’s action by the Trump administration is about saving money for industry at the expense of wildlife that is under threat. It should not stand up in court. This move wastes both government resources and the lives of countless birds. We should be acting to stop climate change and protect species from habitat loss – not greenlighting more destruction of wildlife.

“The Trump Interior Department doesn’t get to suddenly decide we don’t stand by one of our earliest conservation treaties. Over the years, administrations of both parties have made steady and cost effective progress in reducing incidental bird takes with science, collaboration, and appropriate enforcement. This regulation simply tosses that progress away on behalf of short-sighted special interests.”



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