A December 2017 legal opinion by the Trump Administration that limited the application of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has been revoked by the Biden Administration. In a March 8, 2021 memorandum, Robert Anderson. the Department of Interior’s Principal Deputy Solicitor, revoked the earlier opinion, noting that a U.S. District Court last August struck down the weakening interpretation, which was upheld in March 2021 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Trump Administration contended that the Treaty’s provisions only applied if the prohibited taking of birds was intentional; the Court disagreed. A number of conservation groups had urged the Biden Administration to take this action, among them the Audubon Society.
The MBTA is very important to our region because the Central Appalachian Highlands is a major migration pathway for many species of birds, as noted in a February 5 article in The Appalachian Voice. The weakened interpretation of the MBTA would have had a serious negative impact to the overall ecology of the region.