2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 24 Oct 2002 13:54:51 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Pentagon accused of attacking migratory bird law
Pentagon accused of attacking migratory bird law
By Jeff Nesmith / Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- Environmental groups and two House Democrats assailed the
Pentagon on Tuesday for seeking an exemption from America's oldest
environmental conservation law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

The exemption would overturn the ruling of a federal court that this
year rejected a Navy claim that by killing migratory birds with its
target practice on a small Pacific island, it was making them rare and
increasing the pleasure of birdwatchers.

The special exemption would be included in language the Bush
administration wants inserted into a Defense Department budget
authorization bill for fiscal 2003. The bill is being negotiated by
House and Senate conferees.

"The exemption seeks to allow DOD to kill migratory birds including
hawks, robins, and owls with little or no oversight," 14 environmental
groups, including the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation
and the World Wildlife Fund, charged in a written statement.

"The Migratory Bird Treaty Act provides the only source of protection
for hundreds of species of migratory birds that visit or live on the 25
million acres of land controlled by the Defense Department," the groups

Democratic Reps. Nick Rahall of West Virginia and John Dingell of
Michigan said the language would declare that the Pentagon did not have
to comply with the 1918 law for activity that occurs "during a military
readiness activity."

It was such an activity -- bombing practice and shelling at the 200-acre
Pacific island, Farallon de Medinilla, near Saipan -- that led Northern
Marianas birdwatcher Ralph Frew to sue the Defense Department last year.

In a legal brief, Navy lawyers argued that by killing off many of the
island's birds, the exercises benefited Frew, because "bird-watchers get
more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one."

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