America’s most fundamental wildlife treaty strangled of funding in House with a voice vote!

South Carolina’s Republican congressman Jeff Duncan decided to do a little something special for his favorite constituents. That is not the people in his district. It is the oil companies.

As part of his “True ‘All of the Above Approach to Energy’ ” Duncan offered a rider to the Department of Commerce’s and Department of Justice’s budget appropriations bill that prohibits the federal government from prosecuting any person or corporation for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Did anyone stand up in outrage at such an assault on the first wildlife treaty ever adopted in America? It’s the one that protects all the migratory birds. No, it passed on a voice vote.

Now the appropriations bill goes to the U.S. Senate.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

30 Responses to House Republicans kill off Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  1. Ida Lupine says:

    Wow. A new low in lows, I guess…it better end right here I hope!

  2. Ida Lupine says:

    Audubon will bring down hellfire on them. 🙂

  3. WM says:

    And, some naïve folks on this forum think the Endangered Species Act is safe from similar tricks….

    This little budget rider that essentially eviscerates the Migratory Birds Treaty Act is something like 35 words long.

  4. Ida Lupine says:

    I hope the entire thing soundly fails in the Senate. With this kind of voice vote, there’s no record of who voted which way either (Democratic congressmen too?). Scum.

    Did anyone stand up in outrage at such an assault on the first wildlife treaty ever adopted in America? It’s the one that protects all the migratory birds. No, it passed on a voice vote.

    It’s so outrageous it almost sounds unreal. How long before feathered hat farms make a comeback as a ‘livelihood’? We’ve already got fur farms.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Ida Lupine,

      I am guessing that on the voice vote, almost no one voted and that a quorum was not even present, but its absence had not been noted (so officially a quorum would exist).

      They probably called “All in favor, yea;” and there was one or two ayes. Then “Against,” And there were none, or even if there were, they were ignored. That is how these things work. THe onus should be on the party leadership who allowed the amendment.

  5. Marc Bedner says:

    Repealing the Migratory Bird Act Treaty would amount to the USA unilaterally withdrawing from an international treaty. The TPP supporters in Congress might want to consider where this would lead.

    • MJ Graham says:

      Marc – they are not repealing the MBAT. That they will leave in place. What this amendment does is remove funding for prosecuting any treaty violations for the next fiscal year. The that Act stands but is unenforceable, some of which is characteristic of far too many treaties.

      • JB says:

        For folks who are paying attention, this appears to be the standard republic protocol: (1) Make declarative statements like “regulation doesn’t work” or “government is the problem”, (2) ignore any ironies created by those statements (such as the fact that the military is part of the government), (3) pass legislation to ensure that declarative statements become true (regulation can’t work when we don’t allow enforcement; government can’t pay off its debt when we conduct multi-front wars while millionaires pay lower effective tax rates than your average Joe), (4) blame liberals.

        Seems to work like a charm?

  6. Ida Lupine says:

    I don’t know how comprehensive other countries’ laws are to protect wildlife and birds. The US (used to) have some of the most comprehensive protections in the world. What would happen if we did weaken or eliminate the laws? Not much, and perhaps other countries would follow suit. I wouldn’t rest on our laurels as far as this is concerned.

  7. Ida Lupine says:

    That’s a great example. That Trans Pacific Partnership sounds like bad news for the environment!

    Here’s some info on the piping plover:

    “A man told me the other day that he has spent his life trying to fight what we do,” said Lyra Brennan, a field technician for Mass Audubon, who has had to call on state park rangers for help as she patrols the beach with binoculars and a notebook.

    A Resurgence of Plovers Rankles Beachgoers

  8. WM says:

    Just to give us an idea of which birds might be adversely affected by this should it become law – here is the list:

    Some species also receive protection under other federal statutes (like Bald and Golden eagles under their own act, or species which are ESA protected for aslon asthey stay on the list).

  9. cindy says:

    I don’t understand this Republican Party. Seems like they want to rule an empty, barren land filled with a bunch of idiots that bow to them.

    • Louise Kane says:

      +1 It seems like a new era, get me elected and then I will f you one way or another because I can. This is how I feel about most legislators now. They have no accountability to ordinary constituents. Its a rare “bird” (pardon the pun) that legislates with their constiuents in mind. Think Great Lakes wolf hunting, especially in Michigan. To propose and pass this rider is tragic. Its time someone introduced a rider preventing non germane riders.

  10. Joanne Favazza says:

    No one stood up in outrage because all of the political whores in Congress are beholden to their corporate masters. Their mission is to ensure that wildlife and wild places never stand in the way of corporate profits. This is what our “de-mock-racy” has become.

    • Yvette says:

      +++++1 Joanne. And you know, regardless of how much some of us dislike politicians of any party——vote anyway. We must at a minimum keep the batchit crazy ones out of power.

      Can this be vetoed or is this rider a done deal? I feel like throwing up. We must put an end to riders of all types.

  11. Nick Waters says:

    Hardly surprising. The cretins are running loose in the China shop.

  12. rork says:
    “For the first time, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is considering a proposed rulemaking to authorize the unintentional injury or killing of migratory birds by certain commercial and industrial activities.” That may not be a bad thing – I could use help interpreting. I also wondered if this partly precipitated the house action.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Huh? Doesn’t ‘authorizing unintentional injury’ make it intentional? Kinda hard to do with industry such as wind and solar and oils spills, once you know what is likely to happen. Best to be honest and call it authorized taking.

      • Larry K says:

        Ida Lupine,
        You are right, nowadays we know without a doubt what some of the large scale operations do to migratory birds. From wide spread broadcast of pesticides to unprotected oil waste ponds. There is a valid reason the MBTA regulations are strict liability meaning there is no requirement to prove knowledge of the intent to kill. In a strict sense it includes such operations as logging and the subsequent destruction of nests but the courts have ruled against killing as a result of normal logging operations. However that view has now spread to oil waste in another district. You start one domino to fall and others will follow suit. There is some reasonableness that courts can bring into the enforcement of the MBTA. Such as uncontrolled killing with regard to vehicles on the highway and logging. Although I’m for requiring logging to at least be done at a time of greatest mitigation for the bird population which would generally be no springtime logging. You are right on with describing unintentional take to actually be authorized take for the specially identified group or industry. In this rider’s instance it is more than that, it is the broadest brush showing contempt for these wonders of the animal kingdom. It shows me again that such proponents lack the slightest trace of empathy in their own DNA.

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      I don’t know, but this rulemaking could have been an attempt to forestall congressional action.

  13. Tom Utttech says:

    A few years ago, after the passage of Obamacare, the Tea Party Republican supporters basically took over town hall meetings all over the country. Their screaming insults scared the bejesus out of representatives and senators. Last week, in response to legislative attacks, university professors stood in a free speech corral at the back of a room at a board of regents meeting with tape over their mouths. What does this tell us about who will be winning these battles. Maybe bird friends need to do some extreme protesting too.

  14. Real Nice Guy says:

    This is just the beginning, and it gets worse:
    (–politics.html) House Republicans are proposing a spending bill that cuts the budget at the Environmental Protection Agency by 9 percent and tries to prevent the Obama administration from enacting several regulations.

    The bill released Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee would reduce the EPA workforce to 15,000 people, the same level as in 1989.

    The bill, which also covers the Interior Department, the Smithsonian and other agencies, calls for spending $30.2 billion. That’s $246 million below last year’s levels.

    Among the key regulations Republicans seek to squelch are EPA efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and to better protect small streams and tributaries. The GOP has heard from industry groups that the additional regulations would make it harder for businesses and farmers to operate.

    • Larry K says:

      This republican attack is akin to ISIS destroying priceless historical heritage pieces. The EPA, MBTA and other tools of government that seek to preserve those elements that give life are being systematically destroyed by republican control of finances. The first step is to take religion out of government, that seems to be at the heart of a lot of this short-sighted nonsense.

      • julie long gallegos says:

        Larry K, you’ve expressed this so well, I’ve been trying to articulate what I’ve felt is at the heart of Conservative strategies for dismantling environmental protection. Kill what many/most Americans feel defines the nation – or a very important part of our National identity – and there’s nothing left to fight for. Which brings to mind the popular social media meme with the Churchill anecdote about wartime Britain – when asked why, in the face of the huge cost of the war, he approved funds for the Arts, he replied that without the Arts, what was Britain fighting for?


June 2015


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey