Spring migration is upon us. More than ever, we need you to help birds now. Please join us in asking Congress and the Administration to support funding and positive measures for birds and to reject attacks on our bedrock environmental laws.
Three issues now under consideration will have a significant impact on birds, their habitats, and the conservation efforts undertaken to protect them: changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, federal funding decisions for fiscal year 2019, and conservation programs and environmental consequences related to the legislation known as the Farm Bill. We're asking everyone who cares about birds to take action on these three issues, and it's easy: Just follow the links below.
Magnolia Warbler by Jacob Spendelow
Action 1: Oppose Changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act — which protects more than 1,000 migratory species by regulating hunting and encouraging bird conservation in management plans and development projects — has come under attack from both the Administration and some members of Congress. Because of recent changes in how the Department of the Interior administers the law, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will no longer enforce consequences for unintentionally harming or killing migratory birds, or push mitigation measures such as covering oil pits to keep birds safe.
Under the new interpretation of the MBTA, only acts that intentionally harm migratory birds will be prosecuted. That change, combined with proposed federal legislation that would apply a similar standard, spells trouble for the future of native birds and their habitats.
What you can do: Make your voice heard now by telling Congress and the Administration to oppose these harmful changes to how the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is interpreted and enforced.
Ruddy Turnstones © Michael Stubblefield
Action 2: Speak Up for Critical Conservation Funding
The fiscal year 2019 federal funding process is currently underway. These federal appropriations bills present great opportunities to build on the positive legislative wins for birds in the 2018 federal budget and to prioritize resources for critical bird conservation programs, including the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act and the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures. However, because of the current political climate favoring industry at the expense of wildlife, some members of Congress have proposed harmful legislative riders that attack the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of our most important and effective tools to protect and recover threatened species.
What you can do: Please tell your Representatives in Congress to support critical bird conservation funding and to oppose threats to the ESA and other important environmental laws.
Bobolink by Tim Zurowski/Shutterstock
Action 3: Keep Conservation in the Farm Bill
Farm Bill conservation programs are essential to maintaining healthy native habitat for both birds and people. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs funded through the Farm Bill give ABC and our partners essential tools for working with private landowners to maintain habitat for grassland birds, including Bobolink (shown above), as well as for species that depend on other key habitats. With members of Congress currently drafting the next Farm Bill, we need your help to send Congress a clear message that we must keep support for the conservation work it funds strong.
What you can do: Tell Congress to maintain essential funding for Farm Bill conservation programs.
Thank you for taking action to help birds now. With your help, we can create the grassroots change needed to protect birds against myriad threats in the most effective ways possible.
Want do more? Here are 10 more things you can do to help birds during their spring journey this year. You can also take part in two huge events coming up for birding and bird conservation: Be a citizen scientist and report your birdwatching observations as part of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Global Big Day on May 5, and raise awareness for migratory bird conservation by marking World Migratory Bird Day on May 12.
Conor Marshall is ABC's Associate for Communications, Policy, and Operations, focusing on advocacy communications and providing support to ABC's policy programs.