Commit to protect birds from threats

To the editor:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In 1918, the Audubon Society and other conservationists helped pass the law to stem the decline of bird populations, kicking off the great progress our nation has made toward bird conservation.

We can thank the MBTA when we experience the migration of spring warblers and participate in the annual Christmas bird count in our own backyard. Many tourism dollars are spent on bird-related activities, including the annual Amish Bird Symposium in Adams County held in March. Even our national symbol, the bald eagle, may not be around today if not for conservation groups stepping in to protect them.

Yet, as we celebrate this anniversary, some are attempting to gut the MBTA. Birds still face numerous man-made threats that the law helps address. Millions of birds die unnecessary deaths every year from industrial threats like oil waste pits, even when there are simple measures to prevent it.

The current administration announced it will not hold industries accountable for these deaths, while a House bill (HR 4239) would make this change permanent. If this policy were in effect after the Gulf oil spill, BP would have been off the hook for one million bird deaths and its $100 million fine to restore bird habitat.

Let’s take the opportunity this year to reflect on the gains we’ve made and recommit to protecting the birds that we all enjoy. I urge our elected officials to do the same and forcefully defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Rachael Grove