Some say migratory bird law needs updating

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A tree trimmer could face federal charges for an accident that disturbed some nesting birds.

It’s a federal wildlife law, so it doesn’t vary from state to state. It could happen to someone in Massachusetts, but some say the law is being taken too far.

A California tree trimmer was hired to prune branches in the hope of keeping bird droppings from landing on postal trucks. A nest of Herons fell, and now he could be facing federal charges.

It’s called the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The goal is to prevent people from interfering with pretty common migratory birds. Birds like robins, sparrows, blackbirds and yes…herons.

The law covers feathers, nests, eggs, parts of birds, live birds and dead birds.

“If you were driving down the road and you hit a bird with your car. Technically you violated the migratory bird treaty act, even though there is nothing you can do about it. It would be unusual to be prosecuted for that,” said Tom Lautzenheiser, the Central Western Regional Scientist at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.

Many people say the law needs to be given a second look. “Their looking for places to stay and maybe they are staying on land that has been bought by private owners now,And if you are cutting a limb on your land then I’m thinking it might be a little far fetched,” said Karen Siwicki of Turners Falls.

One woman told 22News its all about intent. “When something is done accidentally It’s not on purpose. So I would say if its done purposefully then I can understand it,” said Patricia D’Ascanio of Richmond.

Officials at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton said ultimately its up to the regulatory authority of the Fish and Wildlife Service to decide if someone should be prosecuted.

As for that man in California, the Fish & Wildlife Service is recommending that he be charged.

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