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  #1  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:21 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Possessing feathers illegal?

I was recently told by someone who ought to know (a falconer) that in the US (absent a federal permit) it's illegal to possess any part of a migratory bird - no ifs, ands or buts. I have several feathers collected from the ground and found it hard to believe this put me in violation of the law, but Googling seems to suggest this may be so.

My questions are: Is it, really? Do folks actually put themselves in danger of stiff fines for collecting random moulted feathers? Is this enforced?
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  #2  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:39 PM
GaryM GaryM is online now
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No cites, but Doves are migratory and you don't need a federal permit to hunt and possess them, just a state issued hunting license.

Last edited by GaryM; 11-21-2008 at 07:40 PM..
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  #3  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:43 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
A type of question that we commonly get involves well meaning people who want to rescue young or injured birds, secure feathers for artwork, or salvage eggs or nests for various purposes.

Anyone desiring to possess migratory birds or their parts or products should be aware that all of these are covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16U.S.C. 703-712), which implements a series of international treaties designed to protect migratory birds.

Some key provisions of the Act are worth keeping in mind:

* Wording of the Act makes it very clear that most actions that result in "taking" or possession of a protected species or its parts or products is a violation of the Act. Specifically, the Act states:

"Unless and except as permitted by regulations, …it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means, or in any manner…to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, …possess, offer for sale, sell, …purchase, import…any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of any such bird…"

* It is a "strict-liability" law, meaning that there is no requirement for law enforcement agencies to prove "intent" to violate the law. That is, if you are found in possession of a protected species or its parts or products, you are automatically in violation of the law.
* The provisions of the Act are nearly absolute; "...except as permitted by regulations ..." is the only exception. Some examples of permitted activities that do not violate the law are legal hunting of specific game birds, legitimate research activities, display in licensed zoological gardens, and bird banding under an appropriate permit.
* The Act covers the great majority (83%) of all native birds found in the U.S. Many of the species not covered by the Act are covered by the Endangered Species Act , other Federal laws, or state laws, many of which are as stringent as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act . In the lower 48 states, all species except the house sparrow, feral pigeon, common starling, and non-migratory game birds like pheasants, gray partridge, and sage grouse, are protected.
* Penalties upon conviction can be severe. Even if a sympathetic jury finds that you meant no harm in trying to rear an abandoned nestling or in picking a hawk feather, legal defense costs are clearly not worth the risk.

In summary: your best approach is to take a hands off approach...look but don't collect. If you find an injured bird or abandoned nestling, call the local game warden before you pick it up. (If this seems cruel, take a minute and read the FAQ entitled "How do I care for an abandoned nestling?")

Most of the above information is taken almost verbatim from a short paper entitled Birders And U.S. Federal Law, by Craig Faanes, Cleveland Vaughn Jr., and Jonathan Andrew. In addition to material covered above, their paper contains a thought-provoking discussion of other types of behavior by bird lovers that can run afoul of federal law, and is worth taking a few minutes to read.

In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Management Office offers A Guide to the Laws and Treaties of the United States for Protecting Migratory Birds.
Source: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/about/faqs/birds/feathers.htm


Also see --->
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/in.../treatlaw.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migrato...ty_Act_of_1918
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/migbird.htm
http://www.endangeredspecieshandbook...tion_lacey.php

Last edited by Duckster; 11-21-2008 at 07:45 PM..
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  #4  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:46 PM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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I don't have much to add myself, but I was once discussing the issue with a person who owns a store that sells Native American art and artifacts. She stated specifically that this is true of eagle feathers, because I was asking to purchase one. She sold me a (I think) hawk feather instead. I remember asking her something like "but what if I just find it on the ground"? She said it's still verboten, because you have no way of demonstrating that you did not in fact obtain it by hunting the animal.
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  #5  
Old 11-21-2008, 07:59 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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You see cases occasionally in the news where people have collected feathers from the ground and had their large collection taken once found out. You can blame the feather law on the massive slaughter of fowl for feathers on woman's hats in the past.
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  #6  
Old 11-21-2008, 10:24 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
... "but what if I just find it on the ground"? She said it's still verboten, because you have no way of demonstrating that you did not in fact obtain it by hunting the animal.
So the notion that the burden of proof is on the prosecution doesn't apply here? A bit strange, ISTM.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:25 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
So the notion that the burden of proof is on the prosecution doesn't apply here? A bit strange, ISTM.

I guess it's kind of like people who get tickets from photographs for running a red light or something, even though you can't see there face (in some places, other places you can).
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  #8  
Old 11-22-2008, 01:57 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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I did some volunteer work at a wildlife park that had bald eagles. Any feathers were collected by the staff. I don't know what the official routine was, but eventually they ended up in the hands of American Indians.
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  #9  
Old 11-22-2008, 04:32 AM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
So the notion that the burden of proof is on the prosecution doesn't apply here? A bit strange, ISTM.
The prosecution still has the burden of proof, but the law isn't against hunting the bird - it's illegal to possess a part of the bird and thats all they need to prove.
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  #10  
Old 11-22-2008, 07:43 AM
Wiltshire Wiltshire is offline
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Okay, I'm going to tear down all my nesting boxes. Too risky. I don't want to handle contraband items.

Excuse the expletive, but what a fucktarded fascist law! - And before someone says that the police isn't likely to bother prosecuting anyone for "normal behaviour" - if you don't "disturb public peace and harmony" and crap like that - that's besides the point. Laws like these are especially dangerous exactly because they rely on fully arbitrary enforcement.

When you've got swallows in your barn, what are you supposed to do with the floor sweepings? If they contain a dropped feather, it's illegal to remove it from your property. Obviously I can't just put them out in the dust bin. If a corrupt cop wants to enter your home for some reason and pin something on you, and he sees a feather in your trash - there's his probable cause for a warrantless search. Imagine the fun when he coincidentally also finds a feather from the crows in your garden lying near the barbecue...

Nice. Give absolute power to the government, and put the people in constant fear of attracting "attention of the authorities". Even if it's basically unenforcable, harms innocent people, and its effects may in part be contrary to the actual intent of the legislation. In other words, your typical law...
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  #11  
Old 11-22-2008, 08:58 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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Whatever you do, don't give a feather to the likely new Secretary of State.

I agree, that the law probably needs some adjustment. It isn't a widely known law, and people are often likely to not realize they are in violation. I don't like knowing that there are little legal land mines all over that have the potential to ruin my life.
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  #12  
Old 11-22-2008, 09:53 AM
elbows elbows is offline
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I am stunned. Truly.

I am that person. I collect every feather I come across. I have a large and diverse collection which I greatly enjoy.

Of course, I live in Canada, where things may be different, but I'm still stunned by this. I even have feathers from far distant lands.

I had no idea!
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  #13  
Old 11-22-2008, 10:12 AM
Ponderoid Ponderoid is offline
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Even if you managed to prove that they simply fell off a sick eagle, they'd still be considered ill eagle feathers.

d&r

*** Ponder
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  #14  
Old 11-22-2008, 10:19 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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The idea is that you COULD have killed an eagle to get its feathers, so by making the feathers illegal, you would have no excuse. I think the law is a little ridiculous, but on the other hand, if people weren't hell bent on being assholes with regard to the animal kingdom, we wouldn't have to employ extreme measures.
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2008, 10:24 AM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
She sold me a (I think) hawk feather instead.
Scratch that—seems it was a turkey feather. Here's a pic of the feather she sold me.
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