The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is our most important bird protection law. For decades the MBTA has demanded accountability from industries and recovery after major disasters, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Interior issued a memo reinterpreting the MBTA to only apply in instances of direct harm, like shooting or trapping.
Now, the federal government will no longer investigate or prosecute activities that result in bird deaths—even in cases where deaths were predictable or avoidable. As a state that prides itself on pristine landscapes and touts the highest percentage of birders in the country, Vermont has a critical role to play in protecting migratory birds.
Right now, the Vermont House of Representatives is considering a bill that would fill the gap left by federal rollbacks of the MBTA. H.683 would reaffirm longstanding bird protections by prohibiting the incidental take of migratory birds in Vermont.*
* On January 21, David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont, and Audubon members from across the state testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in support of H.683. Introduced to the committee by lead sponsor Rep. Kari Dolan (D-Montpelier), H.683 is a state law that would prohibit incidental takes of migratory birds. Audubon Vermont thanks the House Natural Resources committee, chaired by co-sponsor Rep. Amy Sheldon (D-East Middlebury), for favorably voting the bill out of committee on March 11th.