The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-31-2009, 05:52 PM
El Zagna El Zagna is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Is collecting bird feathers a crime?

That's what I keep hearing, but I can't find the statute anywhere. My guess is that there is a law that's intended to keep people from killing endangered birds for their plumage, but I can't imagine that would apply to someone picking up a stray feather in his front yard and keeping it as a knickknack.

I've actually seen people get quite distressed at someone - even a child - picking up a feather. It all just seems like an over-the-top interpretation of a well meaning law. Tell me I'm not a criminal for using this blue jay feather as a bookmark.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-31-2009, 05:56 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
My layman understanding?

Oh heck yeah its illegal. If its the "wrong" kind of feather, no matter how you got it.

The reason being, how do you prove you got that eagle feather in your front yard vs the local eagle killer?

American Indians get some exemptions and probably some researcher/conservationist types.

If you KNOW its a random blue jay or crow feather, no sweat. Not sure ? leave that sucker alone

On review, I dont actually know what feathers are legal and what arent !

Last edited by billfish678; 08-31-2009 at 06:01 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-31-2009, 05:59 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 21,817
It is technically federal violation under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You cannot collect feathers from any endangered birds and most other birds no matter how you get them. It is an unusually severe law if followed to the letter. You can google it but here is one explanation. There are other state and federal laws on top of it.

http://www.fws.gov/pacific/migratorybirds/mbta.htm

Last edited by Shagnasty; 08-31-2009 at 06:02 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:01 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
I never knew that collecting bird feathers was illegal. I just figured that parents telling their kids not to were doing it because ew, who knows where it's been.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:09 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 21,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
On review, I dont actually know what feathers are legal and what arent !
My link below gives an answer to that. Almost all of them are illegal with just a few exceptions but good luck identifying those feathers on your own.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:18 PM
Ponderoid Ponderoid is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
We've covered this before. Even ill eagle feathers are illegal.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:22 PM
emmaliminal emmaliminal is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponderoid View Post
We've covered this before. Even ill eagle feathers are illegal.
The other thread doesn't say: Anyone know how thoroughly this law is enforced? Are many people who pick up feathers as a hobby (as opposed to selling them) prosecuted?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:30 PM
El Zagna El Zagna is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Wait a minute. So I can hunt, kill and eat a mourning dove, but I can't keep one of its feathers?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:34 PM
Bisected8 Bisected8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Zagna View Post
Wait a minute. So I can hunt, kill and eat a mourning dove, but I can't keep one of its feathers?
From what everyone has said in this thread, if you can't hunt, kill and eat it, you can't own one of it's feathers for any reason.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-31-2009, 07:02 PM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maine
Posts: 9,245
I only remember hearing about one person who was convicted for that sort of thing. In 1994, a woman named Peg Bargon sent a dream catcher that included a feather from an endangered bird to Hillary Clinton. I've read conflicting reports of whether Clinton turned Bargon in or if wildlife officials began investigating when they read about the gift in the press. Bargon ended up pleading guilty and paying a fine of $1,200.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-31-2009, 07:17 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
As an addendum: There are rules in national and some state parks that also prevent taking things like feathers. I looked into these rules on my visit to Yellowstone earlier this year, and they made it illegal to take any part of any animal, regardless of the species or the method of acquisition.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-31-2009, 07:18 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Every once in awhile you read about a seizure of a feather collection.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-31-2009, 07:41 PM
El Zagna El Zagna is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Well, I found a copy of the statue here. I've highlighted what seems to be the relevant parts:

Quote:
Unless and except as permitted by regulations made as hereinafter provided in sections 703 to 711 of this title, it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part (including feathers, I presume), nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, or is composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part, nest, or egg thereof, included in the terms of the conventions between the United States and Great Britain for the protection of migratory birds concluded August 16, 1916 (39 Stat. 1702), the United States and the United Mexican States for the protection of migratory birds and game mammals concluded February 7, 1936, and the United States and the Government of Japan for the protection of migratory birds and birds in danger of extinction, and their environment concluded March 4, 1972[,]and the convention between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the conservation of migratory birds and their environments concluded November 19, 1976.
The penalties are pretty severe:
Quote:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person, association, partnership, or corporation who shall violate any provisions of said conventions or of this subchapter, or who shall violate or fail to comply with any regulation made pursuant to this subchapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $15,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
Six months in jail for a feather?! How ridiculous! I mean, I understand that they are trying to protect these birds, but if picking up a stray feather makes you a criminal, then the law is an ass.

I can't believe that they can't tweak the language to allow for the casual possession of a few feathers. This is the kind of law that makes the government in general and environmentalists in particular look like a bunch of morons.

OK, OK, I'm well into GD territory by now, so I'll stop.

But REALLY...
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-31-2009, 08:07 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
The laws came about because of the wholesale slaughter of birds for ladies fashion. It seems severe now, but the feather trade was like the the current elephant tusk or tiger penis trade of today.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-31-2009, 08:23 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
I only remember hearing about one person who was convicted for that sort of thing. In 1994, a woman named Peg Bargon sent a dream catcher that included a feather from an endangered bird to Hillary Clinton. I've read conflicting reports of whether Clinton turned Bargon in or if wildlife officials began investigating when they read about the gift in the press. Bargon ended up pleading guilty and paying a fine of $1,200.
If Clinton accepted the gift, I wonder why she wasn't prosecuted?
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.