Last week, Rep. Pete DeFazio (OR) introduced a bill to increase penalties for harming migratory birds, particularly in cases where birds are killed deliberately. I have reproduced the text of H.R. 2062 below.
To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to provide for penalties and enforcement for intentionally taking protected avian species, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009'.
SEC. 2. AMENDMENT OF MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT.
Section 6 of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 707) is amended by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (d) and (e), respectively, and by inserting after subsection (b) the following:
`(c)(1) Except in the case of hunting and other activity allowed under section 3, whoever, in violation of this Act, intentionally and maliciously takes by any manner any migratory bird shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both, for each violation.
`(2) Any person who intentionally and maliciously commits any other act or omission in violation of this Act or any regulations issued under this Act shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both, for each violation.
`(3) The Secretary or the Secretary of the Treasury shall pay, from sums received as fines under this subsection and subject to the availability of appropriations, a reward to any person who furnishes information that leads to an arrest or a criminal conviction for any violation of this Act. The amount of the reward, if any, shall be designated by the Secretary or the Secretary of the Treasury, as appropriate. Any officer or employee of the United States or any State or local government who furnishes information or renders service in the performance of his or her official duties is ineligible for payment under this paragraph.'.
As a bit of background, the same bill was introduced last year but was not passed. It was written in response to Operation High Roller, a federal investigation that targeted roller pigeon clubs. Some clubs deliberately trapped and killed raptors, thousands per year, to prevent the birds of prey from taking racing pigeons. Cooper's hawks, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks – all urban birds – were particularly targeted.