A rider slipped into the massive FY2005 omnibus spending bill that demolishes long-standing federal protection for more than 94 species of migratory birds already has Maryland wildlife officials poised to kill 1,500 mute swans who live in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Claiming the birds are destroying the Bay's water grasses, Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) attached language to the omnibus bill that arbitrarily defines a "native" bird species as having lived in the United States since 1918 and removes "non-native" species from the protection of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), leaving these birds vulnerable to indiscriminate killing without any restrictions. Said Michael Markarian, president of The Fund, "The migratory bird treaties make no distinction between native and non-native birds, and in fact, these treaties were designed to protect birds who move between countries. This new federal rider, slipped in behind closed doors, now opens the door for exterminating dozens of bird species, including swans, storks, cranes, cardinals, and many others. It flies in the face of nine decades of international conservation law."
When the new 109th Congress convenes in January, animal advocates need to make the repeal of this rider a top priority. All birds deserve protection from harassment and unnecessary killing, regardless of their origins.
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