Caltrans bird survey protocols for the Willits Bypass Project are a very important part of our compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). But just what is the MBTA, what does it cover, and what does it require?
The MBTA was first enacted in 1916 to protect migratory birds in the United States and Canada, and it has been amended many times. It now protects migratory birds between the United States and Mexico, Japan, and Russia. The treaty states that is it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell listed birds. Currently over 800 species are listed.
It is important to note that the MBTA protects migratory birds and not trees and vegetation. Caltrans may remove trees and vegetation any time of the year as long as the proper bird survey protocols are observed. Survey protocols are more detailed during the nesting season, and that is why, when it is necessary, Caltrans generally tries to remove trees off-season.
However, no matter what time of the year, surveys are performed which meet the requirements of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which both enforce the MBTA. Caltrans will continue to work with these agencies to ensure the Willits Bypass Project remains in complete compliance with the MBTA.