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New rule protecting Florida’s native songbirds, criminal charges

Posted: 6:44 PM, Oct 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-07 05:34:56-04
WPTV bird trapping cages.jpg

The trapping of songbirds is detrimental to Florida’s ecosystem and officials have a new rule to stop the illegal capture and trade of songbirds.

Effective Oct. 3, the new rule focuses on illegal bird traps used to capture them.

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According to Capt. Travis Franklin, Wildlife Law Administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the placement or possession of a bird trap is a second-degree misdemeanor that comes with a maximum $500 fine and six-days in jail per bird and trap.

The new rule also allows criminal charges against an illegal trapper before a bird is captured.

Songbirds play an important role in Florida’s ecosystem – from spreading fertilizer to climate change.

“Songbirds are also excellent indicators for health overall,” said Maura Powers, Palm Beach Zoo zoologist. “Those birds tend to be very sensitive to changes in climate – changes in weather. And by understanding just how many of those animals are present in a population in a particular area we can determine is that land healthy. Or is there something we need to do to help protect that land further.”

FWC officers are proactively patrolling areas where bird trapping occurs looking for traps and other signs of this activity. They also rely on concerned citizens to call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404-3922 when they see violations.