This page consist of a series of letters from people who commented on the legality of purchasing a Passsenger Pigeon specimen. Shortly after I acquired the Pigeon I posted a question to a bird taxidermist group, and below are the responses from readers after my initial posting. Enjoy!
Passenger Pigeon Specimen Submitted by Garrie P. Landry on 12/22/99.
I recently purchase a Passenger pigeon specimen which originated in Birmingham Michigan. although I obtained it from someone in CA.
On the back of the case that houses the bird, is written
651 Bates Stree
As a taxidermist, does that name mean anything to any of you?
Do you know of any taxidermist in B'ham that I might contact to further my search for more info.
Thanks for your time
This response submitted by Patrick Rummans on 12/24/99. ( email@example.com ) 188.8.131.52
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if the bird you have is TRULY a passenger pigeon, I'm fairly certain you've just purchased an illegal specimen. Just because the bird is extinct doesn't mean that the laws protecting it have disapeared. These kind of illegal sales go on all the time - Ebay is constantly offering for sale waterfowl, song birds etc. which are listed as protected in the US. The problem is, even if you're ignorant of the law, you can still find yourself in a healthy amount of trouble if the right/wrong person finds out about it. It would truly surprise me if Fish Game agents didn't patrol this forum regularly. I hope I'm wrong, but if I'm right, I hope that the bird you bought WASN'T a Passenger pigeon....
This response submitted by Quagga on 12/28/99. ( ) 184.108.40.206
How can an animal which went extinct in 1914 be protected under
the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918 ?. (The legislation that
protects most of the bird species in America and annoys the
hell out of us collectors.) Needless to say, there is no law
I know of that prohibits someone from owning this specimen. In
fact one was recently auctioned off at Butterfields.com, which
does a very thorough research of all of its offerings.
One word to Garrie, if you ever want to sell this please post a
message here! I missed the one at Butterfields and am looking
for such a specimen. And a note to Patrick- Most of the people
who look here(including myself)abide by the laws, goofy as they
This response submitted by Perry on 1/5/00. ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) 220.127.116.11
I believe Patrick is right. While it may be legal to privately possess
such a specimen- as long as it was mounted and possessed before the
migratory bird act and CITES, it is still illegal to buy and sell such
specimens. While Garrie may have been unaware of the laws concerning
the sale of such specimens, the "LAW" most times does not accept
"I Didn't Know" as an exceptable excuse. I am positive that Pat did
not mean to say that Garrie would make the FBI's 10 most wanted list.
He merely stated that state and federal fish and game enforcement agencies
most likely surf this site as well as EBAY for potential violations(
intentional and unintentional). As for the Passenger Pigeon extiction
prior to the Migratory Bird Act, it can still be covered under such laws
if it is listed as a migratory bird,( even though it is extict). The
migratory bird act prohibits the sale of any parts of migratory birds, thus
including the passenger pigeon. Listing of such specimens in MBA and CITES
is common, as some do occasionally get upgraded such as the black footed Ferret
in wyoming( extict to endangered).
This response submitted by Quagga on 1/7/00. ( ) 18.104.22.168
The passenger pigeon is not listed on the Migratory Bird Treaty
of 1918, so is not protected this way. But I will give you credit
for one thing - the Ivory Billed woodpecker IS listed and is
generally accepted as being extinct. I think the rule is 50 years
after last confirmed sighting.
I know Patrick is a very gifted taxidermist and wants to help,
and you want to help as well, which is admirable. I think
taxidermists and collectors should be as aware of the laws as
possible. I just don't like the atmosphere on these boards that
when someone asks a question, some people want to bring the hammer of
the law down on them. Many people, including those who sell on ebay
are ignorant of all of the laws, and be honest, there is about 10
billion of them by now, so no one can be aware of them all. Did you
know, according to the law, it is illegal to posess a nest ? What ten
year old kid never found a robin's nest and kept it in his room for a
while ? Tell the USF on him and toss him in jail ? If anything we
should work proactively to make wildlife laws a little more sensible,
while maintaining the safety and protection of the wildlife that
I am in no way endorsing the illegal sale or poaching of wildlife.
Let's just make a positive climate for all. Thanks for commenting.
This response submitted by Patrick Rummans on 1/10/00. ( email@example.com ) 22.214.171.124
I agree with a lot of what you've said Quagga, but I still stand behind my statement with the Passenger pigeon. Check you CITES regulations - Just because a species is listed as extinct doesn't mean that it isn't still protected/regulated. What happens if someone happened to stumble upon a secret valley filled with Passenger pigeons? Could I run down there and shoot a couple for my collection? I'm pretty sure the answer is no....and I'm pretty sure that the protection extends to all "extinct" species. Being listed on the MBTA doesn't necessarily protect a species, it just means they are migratory. Nearly all waterfowl are listed on the MBTA but the majority of them are huntable.
One last point: because the Passenger pigeon IS/WAS a migratory species, it cannot - even if it were legal to shoot and possess - be bought, sold, traded or bartered. So no matter how you look at this situation, our friend Garrie, unfortunately made an illegal purchase. I don't make the laws, and yes, I would love to see some of them changed to allow for the utilization of natural resources, but until that time........
In closing I'd like to point out that my first intention was to provide Garrie with information that he didn't have knowledge of. I'm sorry that you chose to see that as an attempt to "Bring the Hammer of the Law" down on them. I guess it's all in how we perceive things.
This is fun !
This response submitted by Quagga on 1/11/00. ( ) 126.96.36.199
Thanks for your response Patrick. CITES has nothing to do with the
Pigeon, it is considered extinct, and yes, if you found a valley full
of them there would be no federal law that I know of that would
prohibit you from shooting them. There might be state laws. (Let me
know, though, if you find such a valley !, I'd love to see a living
Cites only regulates interstate and international commerce and does
not regulate personal ownership of an endangered or extinct species.
As I mentioned on the MTBA, the passenger pigeon is absent. That
means that there is no law barring him from owning the specimen.
Again, that does not hold true with the Ivory billed woodpecker,
also thought to be extinct. You are not allowed, under the Act to
possess those. The point is moot anyway, because you can apply for
a permit to possess it either way. Ducks and other pen or farm
raised birds can be purchased and possessed as can game
birds that you have shot and tagged yourself legally. Those are
exempt from the Act.
Patrick, I know you are trying to help, didn't mean to imply you
weren't. You are a very talented taxidermist, by the way and I am
honored that you chose to take up this diatribe with me. I just see
some of the responses (view for instance the Siberian Tiger listing
in the Wanted section) and you can see what I am talking about. We
are all here to help. Thanks again, Patrick and keep up the good
work. And once I can afford some of your artistry, I'll stop by.
This response submitted by Patrick Rummans on 1/13/00. ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) 188.8.131.52
You know, sometimes I let my MOUTH write a check my ASS can't cash....such is the case here. Quagga, my sincerest apologies for disputing you - I made a couple of calls and found out that you're 100% correct. As hard as it is to believe, there are zero laws protecting Passenger pigeons and they can be bought and sold without problem unless the state you live in has regulations to the contrary. In fact, according to the authority I spoke with, there is only ONE bird listed as "Exctinct" which is still Federally protected, and I believe Quagga already mentioned that species, which is the Ivory-billed woodpecker - the authority I spoke with wasn't sure.
It's good to learn new things, and I thank you Quagga for having the persistence and the good humor to keep after me! Cheers!!
Thanks, Patrick !
This response submitted by Quagga on 1/25/00. ( ) 184.108.40.206
Thanks for your kind letter Patrick, I'm glad you looked into the law.
I wish a lot of the people who communicate on this board would take
the time that you and I have to look into these things. I just wrote
a flamer on the wanted board because people were harassing this guy
who wants to purchase some red tailed hawk talons. People should
research the law before they give this knee jerk reaction anytime
anybody says anything raptor related for example. (Check out the
listing and you will see what I mean). Since we may never be able to
change the laws, and they keep adding new ones (!) the best thing we
can do as taxidermists and collectors is work within the framework
the laws provided. You can get just about any animal or bird on the
planet legally, provided you take the time and do the proper paperwork
(and pay the fees.) Anyway apology accepted : ) and you are still the
best bird taxidermist I have seen. Keep up the good work ! By the way
though, before you eat the crow, you should know that those are listed
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