Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just another dead bird

Yesterday's post about bald eagles being poisoned by lead shot was more momentous than this peculiar instance of a single dead bird. But yellow-bellied sapsuckers have rights, too. Like the bald eagle, it is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests. That's why the charge of violating the MBTA was added to citations against Josephine L. Winsor back in December for being in Valley Forge National Historic Park after dark and driving under the influence of alcohol. The 74-year-old artist was driving around with the dead woodpecker in her car. In her defense, her lawyer explains that she was unaware that the species was protected and that she has used birds as models in her artwork in the past: "There was no criminal intent here. She had no idea that what she was doing was wrong." She had in fact worked at a nearby nature conservancy, which is where she had recently obtained the sapsucker specimen. As punishment for her indiscretion, Winsor was fined $350 and ordered to pay up to $500 in taxidermy costs so that the National Park Service could "place the bird into service either for educational and/or display purposes."

Image: A Victorian preserved and mounted green woodpecker arranged in a display case.

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