Contact your Legislators
By Donna Keller
Did you know that 2018 is officially recognized as the Year of the Bird? We at Audubon Society of Kalamazoo think every year should be the Year of the Bird, of course, but we acknowledge, along with some national conservation organizations, that 2018 is an especially good year to celebrate our winged friends.
In 2018, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) marks the 100th anniversary of its ratification, a benchmark worth celebrating, especially as the treaty comes under attack in the current political climate. Since 1918, the act has saved millions, if not billions, of birds.
The act has been and continues to be under threat. Back in 2015, South Carolina congressman Jeff Duncan introduced a rider to a Department of Commerce’s and Department of Justice’s budget appropriations bill that prohibited the federal government from prosecuting any person or corporation for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Because of the outcry from bird lovers across the country, the rider was eventually removed and the MBTA survived Duncan’s attack.
But attacks on the MBTA continue. According to the National Audubon Society, one such threat is, “legislation in Congress (HR 4239), and a new interpretation of the law by the administration, (that) would end the ability to hold industries accountable for bird deaths. These proposals would prevent enforcement of ‘incidental’ bird deaths, removing incentives for companies to adopt practices that protect birds from threats such as oil waste pits, and eliminating penalties for companies that kill substantial numbers of birds, including from large oil spills.”
The ASK board urges its members and birders in general to celebrate the Year of the Bird by communicating regularly with elected officials about threats to the MBTA specifically and birds and bird habitats in general. We plan to cover various issues in upcoming posts on this website and encourage you to call or write your legislators. HR 4239 would be a good place to start. As of March 12, 2018 the House had not taken action. Contacting your representative (and senators, in case it passes in the House) in Washington could influence her/his vote. As our former local congressperson, Mary Brown, used to remind us, multiple communications, EVEN A SHORT ONE, on an issue will get a legislator’s attention, more so when original and heartfelt rather than from a prefab form letter.
Together we CAN make a difference and ensure that EVERY year is the Year of the Bird!
For more information on this issue:
Year of the Bird Legislator Contact Info
Congressman Fred Upton – Michigan 6th District
2183 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Congressman Justin Amash – Michigan 3rd District
114 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2204
U.S. Senator Gary Peters
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510