Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Letter to the Wisconsin DNR regarding the Green-breasted Mango

Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 19:55:15 -0800 (PST)

From: birdingisnotacrime@yahoo.com

Subject: Tip on wild bird capture

To: LE.Hotline@dnr.state.wi.us
CC: lawreception@illinois.gov

Dear Wisconsin DNR:

We wish to make an anonymous tip regarding an illegal capture of a migratory wild bird.

Sometime on or before November 7, 2007, representatives of the Wisconsin Humane Society illegally captured a healthy and wild bird, specifically a Green-breasted Mango that had been safely living near Beloit for at least several weeks.

We submit that this capture was performed without the proper federal permit, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Regardless of the position taken by the Humane Society, Green-breasted Mango fits all of the statutory requirements for protection by the MBTA, and is therefore protected by federal law.

We also submit that the capture violated Wisconsin state law. We assume that you are well-versed in Wisconsin law regarding wildlife rehabbers. For your convenience, we have included the relevant statutory section below. In brief, Wisconsin law specifically provides that a "wildlife rehabilitation license does not authorize the capture, receipt, possession, traansportation, or transfer of wildlife for any purpose other than wildlife rehabilitation." Since this bird was, as the Humane Society has admitted, completely healthy, was never rehabilitated, and was in fact recently used in conjunction with a prearranged "media opportunity," its capture was "for [a] purpose other than wildlife rehabilitation," and the Society's capture, possession, transportation, and transfer of the bird was in violation of Wisconsin law.

The bird has now been transported across states lines to the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. We also ask that you consult with the Illinois DNR to inform them of this situation.

We trust that you will take your duty to investigate crimes involving wildlife seriously and will investigate this matter promptly. The illegal capture of the Green-breasted Mango should be treated no differently than the taking or poaching of any other wild animal that is prohibited by law. To allow the Society to evade legal liability based on their argument that it was "helping" the bird by capturing it was set a terrible precedent, and could be used by any poacher to justify their actions as being in the "best interests" of wildlife. The DNR has a duty to enforce the law uniformly, and to treat this unlawful capture in the same manner it would treat any other illegal capture of a wild animal.

We are also copying the Illinois DNR to inform them of this potential violation of Wisconsin law, and to inform them that the subject bird has now been transported into Illinois.

The text of the relevant Wisconsin law is as follows:

NR 19.72 General wildlife rehabilitation provisions.1) The title to all wildlife and their offspring heldunder a wildlife rehabilitation license remains under the jurisdiction of the department as described in s. 169.02, Stats., and may not be sold, traded or bartered without the consent of the department.2) The department may restrict wildlife rehabilitation of specific wildlife species, either statewide or in certain geographic areas to control the spread of disease, to protect public health or to prevent harmful environmental impacts.(3) The department may restrict wildlife species authorized for rehabilitation based on the facilities and qualifications of the applicant or licensee.(4) A wildlife rehabilitation license does not authorize the capture, receipt, possession, transportation or transfer of wildlife for any purpose other than wildlife rehabilitation.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Very good letter. Please post a response if you get one.

Chris W said...

Your letter is quite well done and I would tend to agree. However, there are some loopholes in that law that permit the bird to be transported. Specifically #4. #4 states the following:
" A wildlife rehabilitation license does not authorize the capture, receipt, possession, transportation or transfer of wildlife for any purpose other than wildlife rehabilitation."

The capture and transportation of the Mango falls under rehabilitation. Therefore, transport of the bird is legal because it is not protected under the MBTA.

in the case of the Bahama Mocker or the Blue Bunting (although, I think only the bunting is not listed) would you go out and shoot a bird like that just because it isn't listed under the MBTA?
It's a question of ethics. Also, usually, only birders would know whether a bird like that is listed or not. To the general public, I believe that we (us birders) do our best to maintain that ALL birds (except those that have seasons on them) are protected under the MBTA. Don't we?
This question is also another one of ethics. Do we let nature run it's course and let the Mango Freeze? or do we make sure that this beautiful bird, a masterpiece of creation, survives to live another day?
In this case, the Mango will most likely live another day.

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

Hi parus!

Let us ask three quick questions here:

1) Are you a lawyer?;

2) Did you have anything to do with the decision to capture the mango? and

3) Exactly what did the Humane Society do to "rehabilitate" the mango, since Scott Diehl stated to the press that the bird was "healthy" when it was captured? And we'll sneak in a fourth question-- how did producing the bird for a media day and then shipping it to Chicago help to "rehabilitate" it?

We bet we'll get a response from you before we get one from the DNR!!!

And to answer your question, no, birders obviously don't "maintain" that all birds (except for huntable species in-season) are protected by the MBTA, because there are now dozens of stories floating around saying that you can go ahead and capture birds whenever you want to if you think you have a good reason.

That's the legacy of the mango capture: You don't have to follow the law if the bird is cute and you don't want to.

Chris W said...

Ok. Much as I would like to answer your question positively, I cannot. I'll admit that I am not a lawyer. However, as for your other questions, first, the decision to capture the Mango was implemented by the WHS and (if i know the WI DNR) had the DNR's blessing whether public or not.
I personally did not have a hand in the go ahead to capture the bird but the idea was run by all the WI birders and recieved some approval. although, there were some that expressed dislike of the idea.

As for your 3rd question, the bird was indeed "Healthy" when it was captured. but only "Healthy" in a sense that it was not sick or injured. It is my understanding (from Mike Ramsden) that the bird was not acting up to normal and it was clear that the cold was getting to it. I also understand that capturing it now was easier than it would have been if they had waited until the bird could no longer fend for itself. If they had waited, the bird might not have been found. (and BTW, the bird was captured by a trained expert. not by Mike Ramsden as the press mistakenly put out.) The decision to cature it was made because it was certain to not survive that weekend's cold snap and it was clear that the bird was not going anywhere.

you state that "birders obviously don't maintian that all birds are protected". Then why don't we?
When I am teaching school groups about birds and leading field trips with more inexperienced birders, I highly stress that fact. Always. All birds in N America that are NATIVE to this country and all US territories are protected under the MBTA. That includes all waterfowl except when they are in season. All birders should stress that. It's the begining elements of conservation. The "stories" you mention float around because we DON'T stress that fact.