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Politics & Government

Sen. Carper opposes Trump Admin. interpretation of bird protection law

Nick Ciolino
Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s senior senator is pushing back against a Trump administration proposal to roll back a more than 100-year-old law protecting birds.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal late last month to alter the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), so that it only protects against the intentional injury of birds, not incidentally injuring or killing them. 

This law was used in the past, for example, to fine BP about $100 million for the bird mortality resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Energy companies support the Trump administration move, but Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) says these companies should not be allowed to harm birds.

“In a way that preserves jobs and economic opportunity, but also preserves the lives of birds as well. We can do both,” said Carper.   

Carper was one signatory to a letter requesting the Trump administration extend the 45-day comment period on its new MBTA rule to 90 days.

Jeffrey Gordon is president of the Delaware-based American Birding Association. He says the Administration’s move sends a disturbing signal about its attitude towards natural resources.

“If we’re taking good care of our birds, that’s probably a good signal that we’re taking care of the whole environment reasonably well too, and if birds are suffering, that’s probably a good indication we’re not doing what we should,” said Gordon.       

And Delaware Nature Society Executive Director Ann Harper says the new regulation could affect Delaware’s bird tourism industry. First State sites like Slaughter Beach are a stop-off for migratory species like Red Knot.

“That phenomenon is known to birders around the world and wildlife enthusiasts and brings so many people [to Slaughter Beach]—right here to this very site,” she said.        

A last in the nation 243,000 wildlife watchers visited Delaware in 2011, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

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