In 1991, the United States Forest Service (USFS) (defendant) proposed to issue timber-cutting contracts to various timber contractors (defendants) on seven land parcels within the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests (forests) in the State of Georgia. A coalition of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club (plaintiffs), challenged the USFS’s timber contracts in district court. The plaintiffs alleged violations of federal statutes, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Section 707 of the MBTA, 16 U.S.C. § 707, criminalized the taking or killing of migratory birds by a “person, association, partnership, or corporation.” The plaintiffs argued that the timber contracts violated the MBTA, because the contracts authorized timber cutting during the nesting season for migratory birds and would result in the deaths of between 2,000 and 9,000 birds. The plaintiffs also argued that the MBTA’s prohibitions on the taking or killing of migratory birds applied to all entities, including the federal government. The district court held that the timber contracts violated the MBTA, and issued a preliminary injunction ordering the USFS to cease timber-cutting and road-building activities. The USFS and timber contractors appealed the preliminary injunction.