Does finding a dead bird fall within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) definition of “taken legally”?
A white-winged dove flew into the side of Ryan Adams’ home and died on impact. Adams found the bird, cooked it, and ate it.
And although the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department backed off rumored intentions to investigate and possibly charge Adams with violating state “legal means and methods” rules, it remains to see if the feds get involved.
However, the ordeal may not be over for Adams. White-winged doves are migratory birds and therefore fall under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Similar to the Texas law, this federal law prohibits the possession of migratory birds unless they are taken legally.
Does finding a dead bird fall within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) definition of “taken legally”? It is difficult to tell from the statute. The real question is whether USFWS will act reasonably and rationally the way Texas Parks and Wildlife did.
People should not have to rely on the judgment of investigators and prosecutors to know what the law means. Each statute should clearly define the conduct that it seeks to prohibit. The Texas statute and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act do not adequately describe the conduct that is prohibited, as it is unclear what “taken legally” means. If the statute were written more precisely, perhaps birds that are already dead would not fall under the statute.