Humpty Dumpty

One has to wonder whether nature can survive the Trump presidency and, if so, how long it will take to recover if it can recover.

On December 24, 2019, The New York Times ran a depressing story about how the Trump administration is failing to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Environmental Protection Act This treaty makes it illegal “by any means or in any manner” to hunt, take, capture or kill the birds, nests or eggs listed among the protected species without a permit.  This treaty was the culmination of heroic efforts made by Theodore Roosevelt and conservation activists such as the Audubon Society to protect birds and their necessary environments.  For those who are not familiar with Roosevelt’s personal history, he was a keen birder from an early age and he continued that passion throughout his life. 

Although he was an amateur ornithologist, he was considered an expert by the experts.  It was lucky for us that Roosevelt was president during the time that there was a fashion craze involving the use of bird plumage for women’s hats and even clothing.  People who were trying to take advantage of this fad were killing thousands upon thousands of birds for their feathers while the nesting grounds of the birds were simultaneously raided for eggs. Roosevelt was able to protect many breeding grounds as federal sanctuaries.  Roosevelt’s actions were, of course, despised by those who had been profiting from the killing of the birds, but he saved the birds. 

Although he was an amateur ornithologist, he was considered an expert by the experts.  It was lucky for us that Roosevelt was president during the time that there was a fashion craze involving the use of bird plumage for women’s hats and even clothing.  People who were trying to take advantage of this fad were killing thousands upon thousands of birds for their feathers while the nesting grounds of the birds were simultaneously raided for eggs. Roosevelt was able to protect many breeding grounds as federal sanctuaries.  Roosevelt’s actions were, of course, despised by those who had been profiting from the killing of the birds, but he saved the birds. 

The Migratory Bird Treaty goes hand-in-hand with the Environmental Protection Act to protect birds. 

The current estimate is that the U.S. and Canada have lost 2.9 billion adult breeding birds since 1970.

The current Trump policy is that “If the purpose or intent of your activity is not to take birds/nests/eggs, then it is no longer prohibited.”  As now interpreted, the policy is that only intentional destruction of birds and their nests and eggs is prohibited and activities which incidentally result in bird deaths, no matter how foreseeable the deaths may be, are allowable.

As said by Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, “You get the sense this policy is not only bad for birds, it’s also cruel”. 

I’ve been a waterfowl hunter since I was 13 years old.  I’ve been to countless Ducks Unlimited banquets and have contributed thousands to protect migratory waterfowl and to the conservation efforts that it takes to protect and support the environments they require, which also support many other avian species and wildlife in general.  But for Ducks Unlimited, market hunters and reckless “sportsmen” would have destroyed the wild fowl population just as they killed the passenger pigeon into extinction.  Every member of Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Audubon Society, etc. should condemn this horrible policy.  Ducks Unlimited has been around since the 1930s doing everything within its power to protect waterfowl and protect waterfowl habitat.  How long will it take for one man to undo everything millions of us have collectively accomplished?

 

 

**Theodore Roosevelt image credit: Pach Bros. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.35645. Property of Wikipedia**