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Our Wyoming Representative in Congress, Liz Cheney, proposed an amendment to H.R. 4239 that would severely damage the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Upon returning home from a business trip, I learned of this sneak attack on the century-old law which has protected our migratory birds from illegal pursuing, taking, capturing or killing. Rep. Cheney's amendment would exempt any "accidental or incidental" killing of protected birds by "the presence or operation of an otherwise lawful activity".

Wyoming should be proud of the fact that most of our industries, especially oil-and-gas operators and wind-energy developers, have been good corporate citizens and abided by the intent of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. On those occasions when a company has been found guilty of incidental killing of birds in unprotected oil pits or collision with wind turbines, they have paid fines which most federal judges have directed to projects for the benefit of birds. In other words, there is now a system in place which is providing a legal incentive to protect birds, and when there is a violation, to make restitution through further conservation efforts. Industry has learned to live with the current system and has made some sincere efforts to institute protections.

When in New York City last week, I took some spare time to visit the American Museum of Natural History. There, in a dark corner of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, I came upon a letter that Roosevelt, then Governor of New York State, wrote to the Museum's Curator, Frank Chapman, in 1899. The letter begins: "I need hardly say how heartily I sympathize with the purposes of the Audubon Society. I would like to see all harmless wild things, but especially all birds, protected in every way". This from the founder of the Boone and Crockett Club and who, as President, was the inspiration for the Teddy Bear - a President revered by the Republican Party as one of it idols. What would "Teddy" think of this effort to weaken protection for "especially all birds"?

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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BART REA, Casper


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