Administration Revokes Opinion That Compromised Key Bird Protections

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter
Expert Contact: Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy, 202-888-7490 | sholmer@abcbirds.org

Today's action means that the Hooded Warbler (shown) and other migratory birds will continue to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Photo by Cammeron Kline

(Washington, D.C., March 8, 2021) The current Administration today revoked the Department of the Interior's so-called "M-Opinion" (Solicitor's Opinion M-37050), which in 2017 weakened protections for more than 1,000 species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Reversing decades of consistent interpretation of the Act, the M-Opinion declared that the Act did not prohibit the predictable and preventable killing of migratory birds by commercial activities. In addition, the public is being invited to comment on a proposal by the current Administration to revoke a pending new regulation that had been intended to codify and further support the M-Opinion.

“Migratory birds will greatly benefit from today's decision,” says Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy at American Bird Conservancy, which was a plaintiff in the case challenging the M-Opinion. “We've seen great progress by telecommunications companies, as well as the energy transmission and production industries, to find ways to reduce incidental bird mortality. We appreciate the opportunity to comment in support of making these established best-management practices into standard practices.”

Hundreds of millions of birds are currently migrating north to their breeding grounds but their journeys are ever-more perilous. Collisions with buildings, wind turbines, and communication towers and powerlines are threats to migratory birds. Mortality from each of these sources can be greatly reduced or eliminated using already available mitigation measures. Today's decision helps reinforce the importance of wildlife conservation.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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