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An Update on the MBTA

In December 2017, the Deputy Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a 41-page opinion that effectively changes the interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the principal piece of legislation protecting birds, including their nests, eggs, and young. Under the new interpretation, “incidental” killing of birds would not be considered a violation of the Act. Note that the actual language of the Act has not changed.

As conservation organizations try to make sense of the change and what it means for birds, the Cornell Lab’s Spring 2018 Living Bird magazine has published two columns to help explain the relevance of the new interpretation. We encourage you to read them, keeping in mind that the deliberate destruction of nests and eggs is still enforceable (e.g., a building manager knocking down a swallow nest).

The Cornell Lab’s director Dr. John Fitzpatrick wrote an analysis, as did Lynn Scarlett, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology