Saturday, March 24, 2018
Protections Provided by Migratory Bird Treaty Act at Risk
Environmental specialist Mike Stermitz has over three decades of experience studying wildlife and pollution. In addition, he determined if entities were in compliance with existing laws and regulations and issued violations if required measures were not taken. Functioning as a construction manager for Arcadis, a global design and consulting firm, Mike Stermitz has conducted surveys pertaining to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
Established in 1918, the MBTA was one of the National Audubon Society’s first victories. Written in response to the extinction or near extinction of several species of birds in North America, the act in its current form makes it illegal to hunt, kill, or trap over 1,000 species of birds. In 1972, it was expanded to add protections for several more species. At that time, the act began to be used in the prosecution of companies whose practices needlessly killed birds.
In response to heightened monetary penalties, industries enacted numerous, relatively inexpensive measures that save the lives of millions of birds that are exposed to harmful oil waste pits or attracted to gas flares and lights on communications towers. Due to a recent legal opinion released by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the accountability that the MBTA provided is now at risk. In the opinion, the MBTA can no longer be used in the prosecution of industries that fail to use basic preventive measures to inhibit the accidental deaths of birds.
Conservationists are very concerned about the implications of the legal opinion. The action rolls back basic conservation measures that have received bipartisan support for a century. As a result of the opinion, they argue that millions of birds will be at risk. Proponents of the measure argue that the opinion will prevent certain industries from being unfairly targeted using the MBTA.