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Westerman Denounces Rollback of MBTA Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2021 -

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response to the Department of the Interior’s delay of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA):

“If a migratory bird dives down and gets caught in fishing net, this shouldn’t make the fisherman a felon. If a farmer accidentally hits a migratory bird in his truck while he’s inspecting his fields, this shouldn’t make him a felon. Yet under the old, outdated policy, it would. This is why the Trump administration updated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and added a clause to exclude incidental takes. It’s a simple, commonsense solution that protects Americans from facing criminal charges if they accidentally harm a migratory bird. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is once again showing how it is out of touch with the real issues and problems facing rural America. Delaying this MBTA rule is only resulting in uncertainty and unnecessary red tape. I strongly urge the Department of the Interior to reconsider.”


The MBTA was first enacted in 1918, and it prohibits the take (including killing, capturing, trading, selling, and transport) of any migratory birds without prior authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). 

Under the Trump administration, FWS updated the MBTA regulations to exclude incidental take of migratory birds, effective Feb. 8, 2021. This rule was designed to protect farmers, agriculture and industry workers, and other private citizens who accidentally harm a migratory bird while performing daily operations.

As of today, DOI is delaying the effective date of the Trump administration’s final rule. No further guidance has been given.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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