In 1916, the Migratory Bird Treaty was signed.
The Migratory Bird Treaty celebrates 100 years since it was signed. The famous treaty was signed in 1916 by the United States and by Great Britain, who also acted on Canada’s behalf. This treaty was the first major legislation in the United States that protected the birds that migrated across its borders. The treaty decided to stop hunting birds like hummingbirds and bluebirds and they also established hunting seasons for other birds.
Another act was passed in 1918, which further enforced the treaty, called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The act banned the pursuing, hunting, capturing, selling, purchasing, importing and exporting of any birds, eggs or nests that belonged on the list. As the act was passed, every state had to abide to it and the past attempts of making money out of these birds were by then impossible.
The act managed to save many bird species and the Snowy Egret is only one of them. Before it was put under protection by the MBTA, the Snowy Egret was hunted for its beautiful feathers and was on the brink of extinction in the beginning of the 20th century. Now 1.3 million of Snowy Egrets can be found across the United States.
According to Karen Cleveland, migratory birds offer something different to the nature and to the world. They also offer many environmental benefits like pollination, seed dispersal and the reduction of rodents and insects on the lands. Experts also say that they could be an indicator of the ecosystems’ health.
The Audubon Society claims that the MBTA has saved millions of birds that would have ended up killed by the human activities. Other treaties regarding the protection of the migratory birds were inspired by the MBTA, and in 1916 a treaty with Canada was signed, followed by other agreements with Mexico, Russia and Japan.
Even though many birds are protected by several treaties, the migratory birds are still endangered. Even though people no longer hunt them as it is prohibited, many birds die because of wind turbines, and their number continues to grow. In 2012, 573,000 birds were killed by wind turbines, an increased number if we look at the numbers registered in 2009, which were 440,000. By 2030, USFWS predicts that more than one million more birds will die. The more wind energy projects are developed, the more birds are at danger.
The Migratory Bird Treaty celebrates 100 years of success and hopefully, the issues with the wind turbines will be solved soon.
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