Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some Good News for Migratory Raptors

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2062, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act, by a voice vote. (Search for the bill number if the link does not work.) The bill increases penalties for killing birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Particularly egregious killings would be treated as felonies with a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

A version of this bill has first introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) two years ago in response to high-profile arrests of several roller pigeon racers. Roller pigeons have an unusual trait that leads them to tumble in midair; this in turn attracts the attention of raptors who see them as an easy meal. These particular individuals were caught because they admitted systematically killing raptors to undercover agents. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates that roller pigeon clubs were responsible for the deaths of up to 3,000 raptors annually on the West Coast.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate, but since the terms do not seem particularly controversial, it ought to pass.