Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Anti-Migratory Bird Amendment

As many birders are already aware, Representative Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.) recently introduced an amendment to H.R. 2578 that would defund prosecution of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, essentially rendering it ineffective:

"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to prosecute or hold liable any person or corporation for a violation of section 2(a) of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703(a)."

703(a) of the MBTA, in part, reads:

“It shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, or is composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part, nest, or egg thereof...”

The House passed the appropriations bill on June 3rd. Like appropriation bills of the past, politicians will often use the amendment process as an opportunity to make political or personal statements. (There are 87 amendments to H.R. 2578.) What Mr. Duncan is essentially telling Americans is that he doesn't personally support one of the most effective and successful legal protections for migratory birds ever created. The amendment was accepted via voice vote, so his colleagues on the right side of the aisle (and apparently even a few on the left) are in agreement with him.

I think the chances of Duncan's parochial amendment passing through the Senate are slim to none, but even if it does make it through and the President signs the bill it into law (he does not have line-item veto power), its duration as an annual appropriations bill would be for one year. But during that time no one would have to fear prosecution over killing birds that have been federally protected for nearly a hundred years. Still, it certainly wouldn't hurt for birders to contact their representatives in the Senate and let them know your thoughts about Duncan's anti-migratory bird amendment.

Incidentally, H.R. 2578 is titled “Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016.” It did not go unnoticed by me that the following language also appears in its text:

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to implement the United States Global Climate Research Program’s National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis under Executive Order No. 12866.”

Big anti-science shocker there!

Link: What birders should know about the MBTA (ABA Blog)

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