Sunday, November 11, 2007

Why the Wisconsin Humane Society's Illegal Seizure of the Green-Breasted Mango is Important

It is simply amazing that the Wisconsin "Humane" Society is turning the illegal capture of this hummingbird into a media frenzy.

Maybe one of the esteemed journalists present at this circus could have taken the time to ask Scott Diehl under what legal authority he captured the bird?

Because, you see, the precedent has now been set. According the the Wisconsin Humane Society, any healthy bird can now be taken from the wild without a permit as long as it's not on the "approved" list of species that are covered by the MBTA.

We're gonna go find us a Blue Bunting or a Bahama Mockingbird to shoot because according to Scott Diehl, that's not illegal! How about capturing a Roadside Hawk? Anybody want a Fan-Tailed Warbler for a pet? How about your own Thick-Billed Vireo?

We, as birders, cannot let them get away with this. It strikes at the very core of why we bird, and while this might seem harsh with respect to this particular bird, it will *save* more birds in the long run if we respect the MBTA instead of trying to avoid it using a technicality.

Wisconsin Humane Society, are you out there? Do you have a response?

Most importantly, do you have a lawyer?

We do.

P.S. If this bird is shipped across state lines to the Brookfield Zoo that could be construed as a RICO violation...


Anonymous said...


Dear Attorney Binac: The Mango is not a protected bird in the USA.

BUT - what is its countability status after it is at the Zoo? Do birders who saw it in Wisconsin have to erase it from their list? And if not, can birders who did not see it earlier count it when they see it at the Zoo - at least for the US?

It is the same bird, after all.

Nate said...

Even though the Mango is not yet a protected bird in the US the actions of the humane society still violate the spirit of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in that healthy non-game birds shouldn't be killed or removed to captivity.

In fact the Code of Ethics for Wisconsin rehabilitators states that they should "respect the wildness of and maintain the dignity of each animal in life or death". You could argue they didn't do that at all.

So even if taking the bird may not be officially unlawful, it's still blatantly unethical.

To argue that it's not illegal yet misses the point.

Anonymous said...

Has BINOC begun the planning of "Operation Mango Freedom" yet? Since it's not protected, what's to stop you from "obtaining it", and turning it loose near where it was captured?

Anonymous said...

Unless you enjoy watching birds die, freeing the mango near where it was captured is a terrible idea. But you CAN help give the mango a future in the wild in an area where he can survive - see Free the "Wisconsin Mango! for more.

Anonymous said...

I think transporting defective birds back to where they can potentially pollute the gene pools of their respective species, is an even worse idea. Nature worked just fine for billions of years without your help.

Nate said...

Meh, individual birds dying isn't a big deal in the whole scheme of things. Populations of birds dying is a concern. The fate of one individual from an abundant population means nothing.

Most vagrants die anyway. They either get stuck way off course and drown trying to fly back or die alone whereever they end up. What do you think happened to the Red-footed Falcon on Nantucket in 05? Or the Brown Hawk Owl in Alaska a couple months back? Or the Green Violet-ear that ended up in Michigan last year? They all kicked the bucket and no one tried to save them.

Birds who go way off course like that are likely freaks. It's cool to see them in strange places, but they almost always have made a fatal mistake. Unless it's a critically endangered animal where one individual makes a lot of difference, we should let them die. It's sad, but nature is sad sometimes. The cheetah has to eat the baby gazelle and the lost idiot hummingbird has to succomb to the weather.