Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 4, 2023


Tara Zuardo, (415) 419-4210,

Fish and Wildlife Service Withdraws Rules to Protect Migratory Birds

Birds Need Rule to Reduce Millions of Deaths Annually

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week withdrew much-needed draft migratory bird protection rules the agency promised to propose two years ago. These rules are necessary to protect migratory birds from being killed by preventable hazards, including by window collisions, like October’s massive bird mortality event at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“It’s nonsensical that after two years of delay, the Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew these proposed protections with the threadbare excuse that even more delay is needed,” said Tara Zuardo, a senior advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Yet despite the lack of regulations, this agency still has the power to levy fines against parties that cause the death of birds, and federal officials should use their authority to do so.”

Under the Trump administration, the Service finalized a rule that upended decades of enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This radical and unlawful reinterpretation concluded the law did not prohibit the unintentional killing of migratory birds.

In response to successful litigation by the Center and allies, the Biden administration revoked this rule in 2021. The agency promised to issue regulations to address situations like what happened at McCormick Place, where infrastructure is known to cause bird deaths.

However, after two years of delay, the agency withdrew its own proposed regulations, claiming that it requires an indefinite amount of time to work on the rulemaking. This leaves billions of birds vulnerable to increasing threats across the landscape like collisions with windows and communication towers.

Over the past 50 years the total North American bird population has declined by an estimated 3 billion birds. Of the more than 1,000 species of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 89 species are listed as either threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and are experiencing serious population declines.

The Center will continue to work for passing commonsense regulations that ensure migratory birds are protected under the law.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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