Last spring, citizens across the country were appalled to learn that thousands of protected raptors such as Cooper's Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, and Red-tailed Hawks had been killed in Oregon, California and Texas.
The raptors were killed by hobbyists who breed pigeons to carry a genetic trait that causes them to stop flying and tumble in the air before righting themselves and carrying on.
These "roller pigeons" are flown in competitions and scored by judges who rate the birds on the quality of the "roll" and other factors. Of course, the pigeon rolling through the air looks like crippled and vulnerable prey to a hawk, falcon, or other bird of prey. Many of these pigeon enthusiasts have been routinely killing raptors in an attempt to protect their roller pigeons.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as many as 2,000 to 3,000 raptors were being killed on the West Coast each year using methods including poisoning, beating birds to death with clubs, and suffocation in plastic bags. Even more troubling is the fact that the thirteen men charged with these crimes received little more than a slap on the wrist after pleading guilty. Currently, killing a protected bird is a Class B Misdemeanor under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which puts suffocating a Peregrine Falcon in the same category as unauthorized use of the image of Smokey Bear.
Please ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor HR 4093, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2007 to ensure raptors and other migratory birds are given adequate protection.
Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon has introduced legislation that would amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 so that the intentional killing of protected bird species would be considered a felony, rather than the current Class B Misdemeanor. HR 4093 would send a strong message to prosecutors and courts that Congress takes these crimes seriously. It would pave the way for significant fines (up to $50,000) and jail sentences (up to 1 year) for the most serious bird-related crimes.
We need your help to ensure passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2007. Representative DeFazio is currently circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter seeking additional co-sponsors for this legislation. Your Representative is a member of the Natural Resources Committee, so it is especially important that you contact him or her about becoming a co-sponsor.
Please send a letter to your Representative today! Tell your House member that you support stronger penalties for the intentional killing of protected raptors.