Ornithologists Beware! Federal Crime For Woodpecker Rescue

At the Cato Institute’s blog, Walter Olson has a new post up about eleven-year-old Skylar Capo, who witnessed her cat attacking a woodpecker in her backyard.  Fearing for the bird’s life, she intervened to rescue the animal and nursed it back to health before releasing it back into the wild.  On the day of the bird’s release, the Capo family took a trip to a Lowe’s home improvement store, where a Virginia game officer spotted Skylar with the bird.

Two weeks later, the game officer and a state trooper arrived at the Capo household to inform them that they owed the federal government $535, and could possibly face jail time.  It turns out, it’s a federal crime to “take,” “possess,” or “transport” a migratory bird without a permit.

Thanks to flurry of nationwide media, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will be dropping all charges.  Olson responds to this news with some sage advice: “[R]eally, if you’re the parent of a youngster fascinated by backyard wildlife, why take chances? Order them back indoors to play video games and watch TV. It’s much legally safer that way.”

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