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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Not just short-sighted and outrageous, it's incredibly stupid. Write your sernator.

Barn Swallow

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), is under attack by your representatives in Congress. The House put a provision in an unrelated bill that bans the Dept. of Justice from enforcing this “cornerstone” environmental law. If passed by the Senate it could become law.

The federal law was first enacted in 1916 for the protection of birds between the U.S. and Great 
Painted Bunting
Britain (acting, at the time, on behalf of Canada). It recognizes the obvious – birds don’t recognize international boundaries. The act makes it unlawful without a waiver to hunt, pursue, capture, kill or sell birds native to the country. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants protection to bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Over 800 species are currently protected. However, the law came too late for some species who became extinct (or whose numbers were greatly reduced) before the law. (pictured are a few of the thousands of bird species that could meet the same fate.)

Northern Cardinals
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits for otherwise prohibited activities. These include taxidermy, falconry, propagation, scientific and educational use, and depredation, an example of the latter being the killing of geese near an airport, where they pose a danger to aircraft.

The Act was enacted in an era when many bird species were threatened by the commercial trade in birds and bird feathers. The Act was one of the first federal 

 environmental laws.  Since 1918, similar conventions between the United States and other nations have been incorporated into the MBTA: Mexico entered into agreement in 1936, Japan in 1972 and Russia in 1976. Some of these agreements protect not only the birds themselves, but also habitats and environs necessary for the birds’ survival.

Orchard Oriole
This 1918 law demonstrates the federal treaty-making power and the Constitutional ability of federal treaties to override state law.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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