Is Bird Law in This Country Governed by Reason, Charlie?

SunshineI’ve been obsessed with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia since the beginning.  It was the logical extension of Seinfeld: four self-absorbed, superficial friends, but even more selfish, narcissistic, and completely crass.  Mac, Dee, Dennis, and Frank are all great in their own sick, twisted ways, but Charlie has always been my favorite.  He’s gross, he’s crazy, he’s completely lovable…and he practices law on the side!

There are several different examples of Charlie either practicing as a lawyer or dispensing legal advice, but my favorite moment has to be a brief conversation in the bar where Charlie is opining on bird law in the US:

RobinIs he right?  Does bird law in the US make sense?  There are several laws and treaties that protect birds in the United States.  Laws began to be passed in the late 1800s because the commercial trade in birds and their feathers had caused several damage to the populations of many bird species native to the US.  Early acts were replaced by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which protects migratory birds and their parts (including eggs, nests, and feathers) unless a permit is obtained to kill or capture a bird.

This law implements the agreements we’ve entered into with the four countries with which we share migratory bird populations (i.e., at some point in their annual life cycle, these birds live in both the US and one of the other four nations).  Three of the four nations are obvious: Mexico, Canada, and Russia.  But I was surprised by the fourth: Japan.  I didn’t realize there were birds that traveled between the US (Hawaii? Alaska?) and Japan.

ParakeetThere are also birds protected by the Endangered Species Act, such as the Californian Condor and the Puerto Rican Parrot.  In addition, the Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act limits the importation of non-indigenous wild birds because of the threat to those populations from the huge demand for such birds in the American pet market.  And, of course, states have laws and regulations governing when certain birds (ducks, quail, etc.) can be hunted.

Bald EagleThe bald and golden eagles even get their own act:The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  This law was originally passed in 1940 and prohibits the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit.  The definition of “take” includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb.  So, in other words, don’t even look a bald eagle in the eye!

HummingbirdAs for Charlie and the hummingbird…he is right, Dennis cannot have a hummingbird as a pet.  Hummingbirds are specifically covered by the Migratory Bird Act and, as such, it is illegal to keep a hummingbird in captivity.  Where Charlie is wrong, of course, is that bird law in the US is governed by reason.  But I still love you, Charlie!

 

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Jessica_alegalgeek
Jessica has been litigating business and IP disputes for the past decade. During that time, she’s dealt with clients, lawyers, and judges who have varying degrees of appreciation for the challenges of managing discovery in an electronic age. Until the fall of 2011, she was an attorney at a large, Texas-based law firm, where she represented clients in state and federal court nationwide. That fall, she made a long-desired move back to the Midwest and is now a partner at Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger LLC, a litigation boutique based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she continues to litigate while also consulting with business and law firms on e-discovery issues (before, during, and after litigation arises).