Advocates say proposed federal rollbacks may endanger birds


SLAUGHTER BEACH, Del. – Every year people visit Delaware for its beaches, tax free shopping and even its birds. In fact tens of thousand of tourists travel to the state annually just to bird watch. But Senator Tom Carper and environmental activists are concerned that may not be the case if a federal law is changed.

Advocates say the more than 100 acres of the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve in Slaughter Beach may become more vulnerable if changes are made to a century’s old bird protection act. “If this bill is weakened then basically all of this is weakened,” says Jeffrey Gordon, the President of the American Birding Association.

Nature lovers joined Senator Tom Carper on Thursday in Slaughter Beach as he called attention to proposed changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. “If there’s been an oil spill or some kind of event like that there have been fines and things like that have allowed recovery to happen and the damage has been made good on,” says Gordon.

Supporters say the law, enacted in 1918, is good middle ground because it offers companies leeway if a mistake does happen. “The fact is there can still be damage and we generally do expect people to repair damage they cause,” says Gordon.

However, the current administration is looking to make changes that may not hold companies financially accountable¬† if they accidentally kill birds. “What’s happening now is they are trying to say, ‘Well as long as you didn’t mean to kill birds then it’s okay.’ And I think that really just doesn’t cut it,” says Gordon.

So whether they’re Bald Eagles, ospreys or even seagulls experts say each one plays a vital role. “Birds are a really important indicator of the health of the ecosystem as a whole. If bird species are declining, it’s a really important sign that other functions of the ecosystem are also declining,” says Anne Harper, the Executive Director of the Delaware Nature Society.

“I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t have nature in it and I think a lot of us don’t. A lot of us consider that’s one of the things that gives life meaning,” says Gordon.

Delaware’s Senator Tom Carper and Maryland’s Senator Chris Van Hollen have already written a letter trying to stop these changes from happening.

Advocates say all hope isn’t lost yet, there’s still time to make your voice heard before these proposed changes are finalized. The public has until March 19th to offer any comments online: here.

Categories: Delaware, Local News