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E-M:/ Please Help inforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Enviro-Mich message from Mike Boyce <birder@voyager.net>

Here on Enviro-Mich we have recently had considerable discussions on the
abuses of Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  Several people asked what
was being done to thwart the governments recent actions in disreguard of
the MBTA and several asked what they might do to insist the government
comply with this Act.

Please help if you can.

Thanks... Mike
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           We Need Your Organization/Name+Title
   on the Following Letter Denouncing Recent Decision to
         Downgrade Protection for Migratory Birds!

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The Administration has recently decided to exempt all
federal agencies from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act's
regulations and prohibitions.  On May 7th, John Flicker,
President of the National Audubon Society, sent a letter to
both Vice President Gore and Interior Secretary Babbitt
urging the Administration to rescind their decision (see

Please take a moment to read the letter.  If you or your
organization would like to sign on, send your name, title/
organization, and contact information to me, Steve
Daigneault, via email <sdaigneault@audubon.org>, voice mail
(202)861-2242, or fax (202)861-4290.  I will collect names
until 6/6/97.  If you'd like to send your own letter,
consider sending us a copy to the above fax number/email
address, or to: 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, #1100;
Washington, DC  200009.

National Audubon Society Chapter Presidents have been sent a
hard copy of this letter via mail.

Thank you for your support.

|                                              |
|  Steve Daigneault, sdaigneault@audubon.org   |
|  Grassroots Communications Specialist        |
|  National Audubon Society                    |
|  1901 Pennsylvania Ave., #1100               |
|  Washington, DC  20006                       |
|  ph (202)861-2242   fx (202)861-4290         |
|                                              |
|  To subscribe to Audubon-News and receive    |
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|  Visit us on the World Wide Web!             |
|  http://www.audubon.org/                     |

    We the undersigned are writing to state our strong
opposition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS)
Guidance Document  on "Take Under the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act."  We urge you to direct the FWS to rescind this
guidance document and to initiate a rulemaking process to
create an effective procedure to insure federal government
compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

    The Guidance Document represents a sweeping reversal of
the FWS's long standing interpretation of the MBTA.  It
exempts the federal government from the MBTA's regulations
and prohibitions, overturning a policy that had been the
cornerstone of the government's management of migratory
birds for more than 80 years. Since the enactment of the
MBTA, the FWS has never taken the position that the MBTA
does not apply to federal agency activities.  Instead, the
FWS has regularly issued permits to federal and quasi
federal agencies whose activities would have resulted in the
"take" of migratory birds.  For example, the Department of
Defense annually receives permits for a wide variety of
activities.  The Department of Agriculture receives permits
for avian pest control. And the Federal Aviation
Administration receives permits for taking migratory birds
at airports and airfields.

    Working under this regime, the FWS has been able to
approve a wide array of federal agency activities, while at
the same time carrying out its responsibilities to protect
migratory birds.  The permitting program allows the FWS to
monitor "takes" of migratory birds, and to assess the impact
of federal and private activities on bird populations.
Although chronically underfunded, the permitting program is
neither burdensome nor complicated.

    We understand that the Guidance Document was developed
so that the FWS's permitting program would be consistent
with the position that the Justice Department was taking in
other federal court proceedings regarding the applicability
of the MBTA to the Forest Service. We believe that the
Justice Department, in defending the Forest Service, erred
when it asserted that the MBTA does not apply to the Forest
Service or any other federal agency.  This position is
simply inconsistent with historic implementation of the
MBTA, and does a disservice to all those concerned about the
conservation of migratory birds.  Although the Eleventh
Circuit recently ruled that the MBTA does not apply to the
federal government, we intend to urge other Circuits to find
that federal agencies are bound by the Act's provisions.

    For almost  80 years, the MBTA has provided the FWS with
the authority to protect migratory birds and to monitor the
"take" activities of federal agencies and individuals alike.
To alter such a fundamental regime without any public
comment or review is particularly troubling.  Moreover,
granting a special exemption to federal actions while
requiring private citizen compliance is equally unjustified.

    We look forward to working with you on this important


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