A federal court overturned a Trump administration rollback of a law protecting migratory birds and their habitats.
The Trump administration argued that the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to kill, capture or pursue migratory birds without a waiver, only applied when birds were killed “intentionally.”
The new interpretation excluded the “incidental” killing of birds protected by the act due to industrial activities like oil spills and electrocution on power lines.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York called the legal opinion used to justify the interpretation “contrary to law,” and ordered it to be vacated.
“The Trump administration’s policy was nothing more than a cruel, bird-killing gift to polluters and we’re elated it has been vacated,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Birds are in real trouble across the United States. We must do everything we can to ensure they continue to brighten our skies and sing to us in the morning, for which they ask nothing in return.”
A 2019 study found that there are 29% fewer birds in North America over the last 50 years. The decline was seen most in birds that breed in at-risk habitats like grasslands and the Arctic tundra.