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New U.S. Administration Brings About-Face on Bird Policy

By Gustave Axelson
Great Egret by Melissa James/Macaulay Library.

From the Spring 2021 issue of Living Bird magazine. Subscribe now.

In the Autumn 2020 issue, Living Bird magazine published an analysis of federal policies affecting birds in the U.S. since 2017. A new presidential administration in January 2021 brought a rapid reversal of these policies.

More About Bird Declines and How to Help

Migratory Bird Treaty Act

In March, the Biden Administration proposed a rule that revokes the Trump Admin­istration’s weakening of MBTA enforcement by excluding incidental take. In explaining the move, a Department of Interior spokesperson said Trump’s rollback would have “overturned decades of bipartisan international consensus and allowed industry to kill birds with impunity.”

Endangered Species Act

On the first day of the new administration, President Biden ordered a review of actions that were in progress to weaken the ESA, including rollbacks on critical habitat designations.

Public Lands Protections, National Environmental Policy Act, and Clean Water Act

Included in a raft of first-day executive orders were reviews of previous Administration policies that reduced the size of national monument areas in the West, weakened the NEPA envi­ronmental review process in federal projects, and stripped wetland pro­jections under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Another of Biden’s executive orders pledged to protect 30% of American lands and waters by 2030.

“These actions send a powerful signal that the Biden Administration recognizes the interdependency of environmental health and human well-being, and they intend for sci­ence to guide decisions,” said Amanda Rodewald, Cornell Lab’s senior direc­tor of conservation science.

The Cornell Lab

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library

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