Owning a Common Loon Feather Could Result in Jail Time
You learn something new every day. I'm part of a group on Facebook called "Loony For Loons" where members share photos, videos, and just a general love for the common Loon. A group member recently posted:
Dear Loonies, does anyone have a good photo of a loon feather that you’d be willing to share with me? I am planning to get a tattoo in the next few weeks and want it to be a realistic style.
I saw that and thought it was a really cool idea, and then went to the comments to see what suggestions people had. That's where I learned that, according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, having a loon feather in your possession is illegal. Dating back to 1918, The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916, Mexico in 1936, Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976:
The possession of feathers and other parts of native North American birds without a permit is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). This protects wild birds by preventing their killing by collectors and the commercial trade in their feathers, and extends to all feathers, regardless of how they were obtained. There is no exemption for molted feathers or those taken from road- or window-killed birds
It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory bird species. The common loon is a migratory bird, spending winter along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina south to Florida, or on the Gulf of Mexico.
So what is the penalty for possessing anything deemed illegal in this treaty? The official document states:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person, association, partnership, or corporation who shall violate any provisions of said conventions or of this subchapter, or who shall violate or fail to comply with any regulation made pursuant to this subchapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $15,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
Fellow group members on Facebook offered help as best they could for the person seeking tattoo inspiration. Here's to hoping they got the information and images they needed.
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