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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Lakewood, Colorado 80228


 January 6, 2005 

Contact: Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comment
 Non-Native Bird Species 

The Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published in the Federal Register for public comment a draft list intended to clarify which species of birds found in the United States are non-native, human-introduced species and therefore not Federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). 

The list, required under the 2004 Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act, covers birds whose biological families are referred to in bi-lateral treaties that underlie the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but which were human introduced and are not considered to be native to the United States. 

Migratory bird species in the United States are protected by the MBTA.  The MBTA implements the United States’ commitments under international conventions with Canada, Mexico, Russia and Japan to protect shared migratory birds. While a 2001 court ruling required the Service to protect the mute swan, which is generally considered to be non-native, the Service has traditionally excluded non-native species from the MBTA. 

“The Reform Act restores and clarifies the original purpose of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – the conservation and protection of migratory birds native to North America,” said Service Director Steve Williams.  “The Reform Act will allow Federal and State agencies to effectively manage introduced species at levels that do not conflict with obligations to conserve native species and habitats.” 

Of the 113 species on the draft list, only 19 are known to have established self-sustaining breeding populations in the United States.  Mute swan, Eurasian collared-dove, and rock pigeon are the more prominent and well-known species included in this draft list.  Several common introduced species–including ring-necked pheasant, chukar, European starling, and house sparrow–don’t belong to families listed under the MBTA and thus are not affected by this notice.  

The presence of a species on the list does not change the protections that it might receive under other laws or treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Endangered Species Act, or the Wild Bird Conservation Act.  The list of migratory birds protected under the MBTA is published in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 50, Part 10.13).  In addition, States and communities can protect non-native, human introduced species at their discretion.  

The notice is available on the Internet at  Written comments can be mailed to Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop 4107, Arlington, VA 22203; faxed to (703) 358-2272; or e-mailed to  Written comments must be received by the Service by the close of business on February 2, 2005.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. 


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