DOI's Solicitor Defines Administration's Take on the Migratory Bird Protection Act Enforcement - Articles

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Posted by: Jarod Word on Jan 17, 2018
A recent opinion from the office of the Department of Interior’s (DOI) solicitor has redefined how the current administration will address “incidental fatalities” pertaining to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Congress passed MBTA in 1918, in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species.
Under the new interpretation of the law, “incidental” fatalities that are not the purpose of an action, “even if they are direct and foreseeable results, are no longer subject to potential criminal prosecution.” A press release from Akin Gump on behalf of the DOI states the purpose of this new interpretation is to “provide welcome relief to companies that unavoidably kill migratory birds, sometimes even after efforts to mitigate take and to comply with industry best practices or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service voluntary guidelines.”
This decision has incensed some conservation advocates, such as the Audubon Society, who was instrumental in the passage of MBTA. The full memorandum from the U.S. Department of Interior is available here.