NEW YORK – A US judge in New York has invalidated rule changes made by the Trump administration to narrow centuries-old laws that protect most of America’s wild birds despite the scene. Billions of birds could be killed.
US District Judge Valerie Caproni ruling on Tuesday criticized the administration’s argument that the Migrant Bird Treaty Act applies only to intentional killing, not “accidental” killing from industrial activities.
“Killing a mocking bird is not only a sin, it is a crime,” Caproni wrote in his judgment, quoting “Killing a mocking bird”; by Harper Lee. “It’s the law of the last century.”
Caproni, who was nominated by President Obama to New York’s Southern District in 2012, disagrees with the Trump administration’s interpretation of the law.
“Nothing in the text of the (Migratory Bird Treaty Act) suggests that in order to fall within its prohibited scope, the activity must be specifically directed to birds,” she wrote. “The statute also does not prohibit intentionally killing migratory birds. And it certainly doesn’t say that only ‘some’ homicides are forbidden. “
More than 1,000 species are regulated by law, and the changes have sparked a backlash from advocacy groups on behalf of about 46 million bird watchers in the United States.
Noah Greenwald, director of endangered species at the Center for Biodiversity, was one of the plaintiffs, said: “The Trump administration’s policy is nothing more than a cruel gift, killing birds for polluters and we are very excited that it has been left empty.
The 1918 bird migration law was introduced after many bird populations in the United States were destroyed by poaching – most of which used feathers for women’s hats.
It was one of the country’s first major federal environmental laws, enacted shortly after the conservation movement embodied by President Teddy Roosevelt emerged as a new force in American politics.
In the past half-century, as new threats to birds emerge, this law also applies to companies that fail to prevent predictable bird death, such as companies. Oil and gas did not nets hazardous waste pits despite warnings from federal officials.
The Trump administration argues that the deaths of birds flying into oil pits, mining sites, telecommunications towers, wind turbines and other dangers should be considered accidents and not prosecuted.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Caproni’s ruling “undermines the conventional interpretation of the law and goes against recent attempts, shared across the political spectrum, to eliminate crimes. scope of unintentional behavior. “
A legal decision by the Interior in 2017 effectively ended criminal enforcement under the law during Trump’s presidency. Eight states led by New York and several conservation groups including the National Audubon Association objected to the decision in federal court.
They argue that the birds have been harmed by government policies, most notably in the destruction of the nesting grounds of 25,000 shore birds last fall in Virginia to make room for a project. road and tunnel project. State officials ended bird conservation measures after federal officials advised the measures to be voluntary under the new interpretation of the law.
The top-level enforcement case purchased under the migratory bird law resulted in BP settling $ 100 million, after a 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill killed about 100,000 birds.
Industrial sources kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds annually, out of a total of 7.2 billion poultry in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and studies. recently.