Bird treaty was significant policy

A noteworthy event was celebrated last week: the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty.

Congress then passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 to formally implement the treaty’s provisions and prohibit the taking of any part, nest or egg of migratory birds by any means.

The landmark act set the stage for ongoing efforts to conserve birds that migrate across U.S. international borders.

Actually, efforts to conserve migratory birds began in the early part of the 20th century when many states began setting hunting seasons to help declining populations, including migratory birds.

For example, in 1900 Congress passed the first federal wildlife protection law, the Lacey Act, which made it illegal to transport or sell a bird in one state when it was illegally harvested in another state – an important step in ending market hunting.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act has a local connection too. Noted photographer George Shiras III, who also was a congressman from Pennsylvania and regularly returned to Marquette, introduced a bill in 1904 to protect migratory birds, which eventually led to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

To celebrate this local connection and the treaty itself, the Chocolay Raptor Center, which is involved in the education and rehabilitation of birds like hawks and owls, had planned a celebration for Tuesday that was to include a presentation on Shiras.

In fact, many such events were to take place that day to commemorate the treaty.

Celebrating the Migratory Bird Treaty on one day is one thing. Taking it to heart and helping birds every day is another.

To help birds, people can landscape their yards, making a haven for wildlife by offering habitat basics like food, water, space and shelter. They can help reduce bird-window collisions. They can participate in citizen science projects.

Again, the treaty began as the cornerstone for migratory bird conservation efforts, but it’s up to everybody to keep those efforts going.

That would make George Shiras III proud.

– The Mining Journal (Marquette)