We can protect wildlife without holding industry hostage

A legally grounded common sense decision by the Department of the Interior solicitor to bring clarity to the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) had led to hyperventilating voices claiming the decision is an imminent threat to birds. The Hill recently ran an opinion piece from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which merits a quick fact check on the reality facing industry, Congress and the Interior Department.

Let’s be clear, the overly strict enforcement of incidental take against American industry under MBTA is about hamstringing vital economic development and energy production. According to the 2014 American Bird Conservancy Report, house cats kill nearly 2.4 billion birds each year, buildings and windows claim another 599 million birds, and automobiles take out an additional 200 million birds. In total, Americans (and their feline friends) kill more than 3 billion birds each year, without any expectation of criminalization. The intent of the MBTA has been to prevent direct “take,” not to prohibit the incidental activities of your cat, car, building, or responsible development.

Because of the overly strict interpretation of the MBTA, the tiny fraction of birds that incidentally interact with American industry have resulted in criminal charges, massive penalties and threats to project financing…


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