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The Ornithological Council submits (more) comments on MBTA

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This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council.

Earlier this month, the Department of the Interior announced that it would freeze implementation of the controversial Trump-era rule that changed the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to no longer apply to incidental take, which was set to go into effect on Feb. 8.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the public comment period for an additional 20 days and today the Ornithological Council submitted comments on the rule, drawing on previous comments submitted by the OC in response to the scoping notice in February 2020 and the draft envronmental impact statement in July 2020. The comments stressed the inadequacy of the environmental analysis performed on the rule and encouraged the agency to revert to the previous interpretation of the MBTA. 

Withdrawal of the rule by the Biden administration would not be entirely surprising; Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who has been nominated for Secretary of the Interior, co-sponsored a bill during the last Congress to reverse the Trump administration's reinterpretation of the MBTA.

The final rule is also the subject of litigation, after a court in August struck down the internal Interior memo on which the new rule is based. The Trump administration had indicated its intent to appeal that case; but last month, the Biden administration asked for more time to consider whether to withdraw.  In addition, environmental groups filed suit in two different cases in January asking the federal court to strike down the new rule. 

UPDATE: The Biden administration withdrew its appeal in the federal case challenging the Interior memo on Feb. 25. 

About the Ornithological Council

The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 10 scientific societies of ornithologists; these societies span the Western Hemisphere and the research conducted by their members spans the globe. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our 10 member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one of our member societies or donating directly at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!

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