Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
Under United States Code Title 16, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is the United States portion of four covenants between the U.S. and four other nations (Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia) making it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds listed therein ("migratory birds"). The treaty does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list.
The treaty is broken down into ten sections, 703 through 712 (16 USC 703 through 712). Note that § 709 is omitted, but § 709a Authorization of appropriations is included and active, making eleven listed sections (including § 709 Omitted).
|§ 703||Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds unlawful|
|§ 704||Determination as to when and how migratory birds may be taken, killed, or possessed|
|§ 705||Transportation or importation of migratory birds; when unlawful|
|§ 706||Arrests; search warrants|
|§ 707||Violations and penalties; forfeitures|
|§ 708||State or Territorial laws or regulations|
|§ 709a||Authorization of appropriations|
|§ 710||Partial invalidity; short title|
|§ 711||Breeding and sale for food supply|
|§ 712||Treaty and convention implementing regulations; seasonal taking of migratory birds for essential needs of indigenous Alaskans to preserve and maintain stocks of the birds; protection and conservation of the birds|
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (aka MBTA) was first established to implement the 1916 convention between the United States and Great Britain for the protection of birds migrating between the U.S. and Canada. This offered much needed protection to many bird species during a time when commercial trade in birds and their feathers was popular.
Since 1918, similar conventions between the United States and Mexico (1936), Japan (1972) and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (1976, now Russia) have been incorporated into the MBTA. Some of these conventions stipulate protections not only for the birds themselves, but also for habitats and environs necessary for the birds' survival.
Impact on Private Property Owners
Migratory birds may seek respite within trees or on buildings considered private property. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits the removal of all listed species or their parts (feathers, eggs, nests, etc.) from such property. However, in extreme circumstances, a federal permit might be obtained for the relocation of listed species (in some states a state permit is required in addition to a federal permit). Pursuant to the spirit of the treaty, it is not trivial to obtain a permit; the applicant must meet a certain criteria as outlined in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, 21.27, Special Purpose Permits.
The permit applicant is generally a contractor who specializes in wildlife relocation. When hiring a contractor to trap and relocate any animal from one's property, the private property owner is well advised to attain proof of such permits before any trapping activity begins, as trapping without the necessary paperwork is common in the United States.
Most wildlife management professionals consider relocation actions undue harm to the birds, particularly since relocated birds (being migratory) often return to the same property the next year. In the case of trapping and relocation, harm is brought on by or can result in:
- Breaking, a term describing increased susceptibility to disease brought on by the stress of capture and relocation
- Difficulty in establishing territory at the new location
- Separation of family members and the stunting of juveniles' natural progression into adulthood
Partial Listing of Covered Species
The following is a sampling of some of the more commonly known birds of the over 800 species covered under the treaty:
- Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Black-capped chickadee, Parus atricapillus
- Black vulture, Coragyps atratus
- Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
- Cedar waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
- Cliff swallow, Hirundo pyrrhonota
- Common barn owl, Tyto alba
- Common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
- Downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
- Gray catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
- Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Mourning dove, Zenaida macroura
- Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
- Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Swamp sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
- Turkey vulture, Cathartes aura
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