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The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is Waived for Border Wall

During the 19th century many birds were slaughtered for their feathers or for other commercial purposes. Following extinction of the passenger pigeon, birds with long, elegant plumes, like the snowy egret, were regularly killed for their feathers, which were used to adorn ladies’ hats. A massive outcry from women who saw value in birds beyond hats led Congress to pass the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in 1918. The MBTA implemented a treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain (the latter acting on behalf of Canada) to prevent the pursuit, hunting, capture, or killing of birds migrating between the U.S. and Canada. A similar treaty was signed with Mexico in 1936, and additional treaties with Japan and Russia followed. There are now 1007 bird species on the list of protected migratory birds.

Many birds that reside in Mexico migrate to the southwestern U.S. to breed. Each spring, birdwatchers travel from all over the world to Arizona’s sky islands, near the Mexican border, to catch a glimpse of the elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, or violet-crowned hummingbird. Seeing such glorious birds reminds us that to preserve these species for the future, we must safeguard their nesting sites and feathers, and protect them from hunting and capture today.

Waiving the MBTA means that bird species migrating to the Sonoran Desert and its sky islands are no longer protected if they breed in the vicinity of the proposed border wall. Breeding habitat may be damaged, nests disturbed or destroyed, and ground nesting birds may simply be run over. There were sound justifications for the enactment of the MBTA, and it is heartbreaking to see those justifications being discarded so cavalierly. Click here for a list of all 48 federal laws waived to expedite construction of a border wall.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives ( and let them know that you oppose waiving The Migratory Bird Treaty Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.

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