The threat of prosecutions and fines was a powerful tool to encourage industries to figure out ways to avoid killing birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service used that oily evidence from Mowad and other agents to estimate that 300,000 birds were killed in that 1989 spill. Include this language at the beginning of the story: “This story was produced by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting (link organization name to, a nonprofit news organization. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14-6 on April 4 in support of Bernhardt’s nomination, and the full Senate is expected to confirm him as secretary. “Those conservation efforts are benefiting birds, sure. Restored wetlands help bolster fish and shellfish, clean water and protect people from big storms. How will Trump’s lax emissions standards save money and lives? You also cannot sell our material separately or syndicate it. In a Senate hearing last May, Van Hollen questioned whether the policy change would affect efforts to hold oil companies responsible for spills. “(Zinke) didn’t realize this change meant taxpayers and citizens couldn’t hold companies liable under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for massive killing of migratory birds,” Van Hollen told Reveal. The Humane Society of the United States is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Click on the “Republish this content” link at the bottom of every story. Contributions to the HSUS are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Learn more at and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at Bernhardt pushed a December 2017 legal opinion that declared the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only when companies kill birds on purpose. In 2013, Duke Energy Renewables pleaded guilty over the … Terms of Service apply. You can’t republish all of our material wholesale, or automatically; you need to select stories to be republished individually. The reinterpretation of the bird law by the administration may run afoul of these long-standing treaties. The bill would give federal prosecutors the option of pursuing higher-level penalties for maliciously killing or wounding protected birds. If you want to republish Reveal graphics or data, please contact Director of Audience Hannah Young, Right now, animals like me are suffering in puppy mills, research labs and factory farms. There’s a lot at stake for energy companies, too, which is why they’ve worked so hard to weaken this act. Join the fight to protect us. We do not compensate anyone who republishes our work. Reply STOP to opt out. The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. Follow the Humane Society of the United States on Twitter. Thanks for your interest in republishing this story. In recent years there have been horrifying examples of malicious cruelty to protected birds, such as "roller pigeon clubs" killing birds of prey through shooting, poisoning and even baiting raptors with pigeons rigged with fishing hooks, and cockfighters using baited, steel-jawed leghold traps to prevent raptors from preying on game fowl. And apparently he did their bidding,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Many birds were saved. Another email from October 2018 shows that Fish and Wildlife saved $2.5 million by not filling 10 positions primarily related to investigating violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You may embed our audio and video content and republish any written story for free under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license and will indemnify our content as long as you strictly follow these guidelines: Credit and tag Reveal when sharing the story on social. Our reporter(s) must be bylined. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google An email about a timber harvest in Michigan said Fish and Wildlife no longer prohibits loggers from cutting down trees with nests in them, even if it destroys live eggs or chicks. Not Anymore. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. The issue is on the agenda of a trilateral meeting among the U.S., Canada and Mexico this week. FYI, you can grab HTML code for our stories easily. Fish and Wildlife official who helped negotiate the amendments to the treaties with Canada and Mexico in the 1990s says Trump’s policy is out of step with international obligations. © 2020 The Humane Society of the United States Privacy Policy & Terms. “The Government of Canada continues to interpret the century-old Migratory Bird Convention as to prohibiting the incidental take (killing or harming) of migratory birds, their nests and eggs,” said Gabrielle Lamontagne, a spokeswoman for Environment and Climate Change Canada. Privacy Policy and We’re @reveal on Twitter and you can find us on at facebook/ThisIsReveal. The HSUS thanks Rep. DeFazio and Chairman Nick Rahall for their leadership and asks the full House to pass the bill quickly. First enacted to implement a 1916 treaty with Canada, the 1918 law was written to protect migratory birds – as well as their nests, eggs and even feathers – from being captured, sold or killed “at any time, or in any manner.” Similar treaties were signed by the governments of Mexico, Japan and the Soviet Union, now Russia, and included in the law. Since the penalty for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is currently only a class B misdemeanor, this legislation would finally provide a meaningful deterrent of prison time and hefty fines. The Department of Interior officially reversed its Obama-era interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act on Dec. 22. The Humane Society of the United States applauds the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources for voting unanimously on Wednesday to strengthen penalties for killing birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This story was edited by Matt Thompson, Narda Zacchino, Michael Corey and Andrew Donohue and copy edited by Stephanie Rice. EPA scientists found a toxic chemical damages fetal hearts. This license only applies to republication of full works. You can republish Reveal photos only if you run them in or alongside the stories with which they originally appeared, include the original caption, and do not change them. Killing Migratory Birds Has Been a Crime for Decades. "To date, even the most outrageous violations have resulted in nothing more than slaps on the wrist. We prefer the following format: By Emmanuel Martinez, Reveal. David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump’s interior secretary nominee, testifies during his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing March 28. Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images. The HSUS applauds house committee for supporting stronger penalties for killing migratory birds, Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. Fishing crews put weights on the long lines so birds wouldn’t get drowned when they dove for the bait. The bill would give federal prosecutors the option of pursuing higher-level penalties for maliciously killing or wounding protected birds. In the past, the memo said, the Interior Department pursued “claims against companies responsible for oil spills that incidentally killed or injured migratory birds. If you wish to only use portions of the work or create a derivative, you need separate permission and the license and indemnification do not apply. Van Hollen sought clarification, and a Fish and Wildlife official finally responded to him in a Feb. 21 letter. The Trump administration took a step on Friday toward rolling back protections for migratory birds and reducing penalties for companies that inadvertently kill them, the latest effort to finalize regulatory rollbacks before President Donald Trump leaves office in January. That avenue is no longer available” due to the 2017 legal interpretation, known as an M-Opinion. Was Florida in 2018 a dry run for troubles in November? Message and data rates may apply. Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. “It will unravel a lot of progress over the past several decades,” said Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta who has studied the impact on birds of the oil sands industry in Canada. But Bernhardt did not consider it a conflict of interest to work on the issue. This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Penalties associated with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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