Thursday, May 14, 2009

Felony Duck Shooting

There is still ANOTHER House bill, HR 2188, which increase penalty for illegally taking a migratory bird (duck, dove etc.)to a felony with up to $50,000 and two years in prison.

This seems draconian to say the least, and especially worrying to falconers who cannot always MAKE their hawk take the "correct" bird. (HT David Williamson).

I asked Rebecca, who works for DU, and she graciously allowed me to print her reply.

"Interesting. My bigger problem is that the money is going back to whoever
tattled as reward money. I don't agree with this as a means of fixing a
problem (if there was one.) We all know that punishment that happens after
the fact doesn't work. It's just going to make law breakers better at
breaking the law. So why don't we focus and spend on education and PR for
the migratory birds? And destroying someone's life over the destruction of a
bird is nonsense. I didn't agree with this when it was originally suggested
as backlash toward the pigeoners.

"And I'm trying to shirk that feeling of paranoia that I get as a falconer
when I see things like this. Theoretically, if you don't break the law you
have nothing to worry about, but we have a history of being led to
entrapment and getting busted on arbitrary reads of the law.

"I guess I could drop a line to Dale Humberg who's representing Ducks
Unlimited at this hearing to see where we stand on this. I know we fully
support the increase in the cost of Federal Duck Stamps. I'll be in
Washington in December and plan to stop into our DC office and meet our
policy guys. Hopefully that will help me offer tidbits of information from
the falconer's stance."


prairie mary said...

In 1962 Bob Scriver was confronted by a federal fish and game warden and told that the songbirds he had mounted for his little museum meant that he'd broken the federal migratory bird law. Bob had an eye infection and couldn't see that summer. The warden threatened to padlock the museum, his only source of income. This warden also jumped a man whose cat had brought in a phalarope. Evidently his supervisors thought he was a little over-zealous, because nothing came of it. But it certainly hardened our attitude towards federal officials.

We were told that if the museum had a "proper" permit, birds could be collected and mounted. (The birds in the museum to that point had been killed in a late spring storm. Kids brought them in for a fifty cent reward. The swan in the exhibit had been found dead in a field and given to Bob by the STATE warden.) When we applied for a "proper" museum permit, we were told we didn't qualify because we were not "public." They evidently meant "government owned."

They say never to have a gun unless you intend to shoot it. Why have a draconian law like this except to punish anyone who steps out of line. In the hands of people with no judgment, badly considered felony laws can be deadly.

Prairie Mary

Anonymous said...

I have been duck hunting with a federal warden, when he misidentified a flock of ducks and attempted to take an illegal bird. I have had to correct another's bird id on a duck in hand. This is a scary thing when you realize how easy it is to violate when you are trying not to.

Anonymous said...

I think this bill was pushed by the rapidly increasing Canada Goose population, which now outnumber all other minorities in the U.S. They don't have the right to vote quite yet, but with the AR's agenda, they might soon enough, and savvy politicians are already starting to curry favor.....:)...L.B.

Jerry said...

Hmm...what's the penalty when the blade of your wind power turbine whacks a migratory bird?

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

It would probably be good for me to add too, that I wish more falconers would support DU. Although our policy work is primarily habitat/conservation focused, that work has done far more for us than most falconers realize. Not to mention what's done on the ground. There's more than 230 wetlands projects just in California.

And of course, although I think it's obvious, I should state to be safe that my opinions on the proposed increased penalties on illegal migratory bird takes are my own, not necessarily that of Ducks Unlimited. I know that DU is fully behind the MBTA, which I certainly support.

Still, even knowing that I'm covered by "leave it lay" if the falcons take something miscellaneous, having it be a felony scares the crap out of me. I imagine it would be dropped in court, but not before the damage to my finances, my job and my reputation were ruined.