Public Comment Period Still Open For US Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a 20-day public comment period regarding the MBTA. This window will end on March 1. If you would like to have your views submitted on the proposed rollback of protections for birds, you may do so as follows…

Start at http://www.regulations.gov. Using the search field, search for “FWS-HQ-MB-2018-0090”. In the search results you’ll see a list, all of which seem to have the same title (“Regulations Governing Take of Migratory Birds”), but one of them has a “Comment” button to click. That gets you to the right place.

A bit of background on this issue is here.

Below is what I submitted:

The United States is so fortunate to be the custodian of such a beautiful portion of the natural world. This land and its variety of ecosystems and wildlife is the most precious resource that we have. It is a resource that needs to be sustained and protected for our sake and for the sake of future generations.

One of the key actions we undertook to do that, decades ago, was passing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Birds not only play a critical role in the biodiversity here; as so many are seasonal migrants, they have a huge global impact as well. To now weaken this law imperils not only our national resources but even robs our neighbors of species that recognize no national boundaries. It would set a terrible example should our prosperous nation not only fail to demonstrate leadership in being a steward of the planet, but to turn a blind eye to the destruction of nature on our own soil.

Species loss is permanent – it is the annihilation of priceless information that nature took many millions of years to develop. Every species is a unique and invaluable source of information, and is potentially of limitless value for humanity, as evidenced by the wealth of practical medical utility of many plants, to name one example.

Any society that claims to be an advocate of science must first and foremost protect the priceless resources that make science possible. To remove protections for birds or any other vulnerable natural resource is akin to failing to secure a great laboratory where a detailed and lengthy experiment is in progress, leaving the doors open to vandals that will enter and destroy the equipment, with or without knowledge of what they have ruined. It is to sanction robbery from the generations coming after us.

Please keep the MBTA intact and as strong as when it was created. This should not be a political issue; it is a moral one. Although the gutting of the MBTA was recently proposed by a Republican administration, I would remind everyone of the eloquent words of an earlier member of that party that once occupied the same office, Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “…to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach—why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.” And, “…cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

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