Pursuant to a modern interpretation of a 100-year old law, every American who owns a cat, drives a car, or owns a home with windows is a potential criminal.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a strict liability statute that was passed in 1918 to prevent commercial hunting and poaching from driving migratory birds into extinction.  Decades later, government lawyers began using this hunting and poaching law to prosecute people for accidental bird deaths resulting from otherwise lawful activity.  The result was the imposition of a greater duty to protect the lives of birds, prosecutorial discretion to decide which people and industries would be held to account for “incidental takings,” and a collection of formal and informal guidance from enforcement agencies about how to comply to avoid jail time and heavy fines.  On this call, hear how we got here, what the Department of the Interior is doing in this regulatory space, and what effect the DOI’s actions will have.

Visit our website – RegProject.org – to learn more, view all of our content, and connect with us on social media.


  • Gary Lawkowski, Counselor to the Deputy Secretary, Department of the Interior 
  • [Moderator] Devon Westhill, Director, Regulatory Transparency Project

To listen to this Regulatory Transparency Project Teleforum, please dial 888-752-3232 at 12:00 p.m. via telephone.