Recent changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act extend protection to over 120 new (non-split) species, some of which have waited decades for legal recognition. Most are vagrants such as Stygian Owl, Flame-colored Tanager, Blue Mockingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Xantus’s Hummingbird, Bumblebee Hummingbird, and Green-breasted Mango that will finally enjoy the same protection under the MBTA as other naturally occurring species. (You hear that, Brookfield Zoo?)
One controversial addition to the list is Muscovy Duck, a neotropical native that has established populations in southern Texas. The problem is with feral and released domestic Muscovies, which are causing a variety of problems. Not surprisingly, duck fanciers are up in arms over a proposal to outlaw breeding of Muscovies except for meat, and I can sympathize. Though the proposal specifically exempts any live ducks in one’s possession prior to the date the rule goes into effect, it will eliminate breeding of highly domesticated strains of Muscovy for show or pet purposes. Apparently, many of those pets are being abandoned where they become nuisances to people, reservoirs for disease, and competitors for resources with native species, but the bigger problem would seem to be breeding of semi-wild, flight-capable Muscovies to be released for canned hunts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether duck fanciers can work out some reasonable exemptions.