Incidental Take

Migratory Bird Program Works on Programmatic EIS to Evaluate Options for Incidental Take Authorizations

Migratory birds are susceptible to both natural and human-caused sources of injury and mortality. Millions of birds die each year from collisions with human-made structures, electrocutions, chemicals, and other similar causes.

These sources of mortality are becoming more prevalent across the landscape and are contributing to continental-scale population declines for many species. These mortality factors are often made even worse by landscape and habitat alterations resulting from changes in climate.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) provides the primary legal protection for most birds. The Act currently protects 1,027 bird species, all of which are susceptible to anthropogenic threats.

The MBTA also provides the framework through which a program could be established that would address incidental take and help reduce human-caused mortality of birds. This program would provide a means for which we can reduce this mortality through implementation of practical solutions that industries and agencies can take to further migratory bird conservation.

It is for this purpose that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pursuing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) to evaluate approaches for developing an authorization mechanism for the incidental take of migratory birds.

The PEIS will address the potential environmental impacts of:

  • A range of reasonable alternatives for authorizing incidental take
  • How a program would incorporate best practices or measures to mitigate take of migratory birds under the MBTA and adverse impacts to migratory bird resources
  • The effects that measures to protect birds have on non-bird resources such as cultural resources
  • Sources of mortality other than incidental take on migratory bird populations
  • Factors that impact migratory bird habitat, including, but not limited to, climate change

An authorization program alone will not address all of the conservation needs of bird populations. Conservation will require a multifaceted, coordinated approach by governments, conservation organizations, industry, and the public. For more information about Incidental Take and the PEIS process, please visit

You may also view a recorded webinar presentation by the US. Fish & Wildlife Service on Incidental Take.

Last Updated: March 21, 2016