Carper opposes changes to Migratory Bird Treaty Act

SLAUGHTER BEACH — Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., highlighted the importance of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act on Thursday following the release of President Donald Trump’s administration’s proposed rule to weaken the century-old act.

Sen. Carper was joined by Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, and Anne Harper, executive director of the Delaware Nature Society, at the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve, a 108-acre protected marsh that is home to many species of birds and wildlife.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a rule that would allegedly weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by removing penalties for companies that incidentally kill migratory birds.

On Thursday, Sen. Carper sent a letter, along with Sen. Van Hollen (Maryland) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (Arizona) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (California), requesting the Trump administration extend its 45-day comment period on its new Migratory Bird Treaty Act rule to 90 days.

According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, in Delaware, 243,000 wildlife watchers spent $170 million on equipment and trip-related expenses. Nationally, a 2016 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Survey found that more than 45 million people watch birds, joining other wildlife watchers in contributing a total of $80 billion to the U.S. economy.

“For over a century, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has protected the hundreds of species of birds that call Delaware home,” said Sen. Carper. “It has also protected Delaware’s $3 billion dollar tourism economy, which relies on these birds and the thousands of tourists they attract each year.

“As climate change continues to threaten entire species of birds and their habitats, we ought to be thinking of ways we can better protect them. Instead, the Trump administration is putting the interests of industry over the health of our planet and those we share it with.”