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Old Jul 12, 2004, 1:03 PM   #1
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I know that the people that post in the Wildlife category do so because they have a true love and interest in the animals, especially birds. That being the case, I thought that all of you would be interested in the article I include below and which I first saw posted on the birdforum.netwebsite. If any of you visit internet auction or sales sites and see the activity described belowdon't hesitate to let the administrators of the site know that the activity is illegal.

Article follows:

The Associated Press


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -
The Internet marketplace that is eBay offers some unexpected wares - even songbird nests from Charlotte's back yards.

Bird lovers are aghast at a series of illegal online sales of eggs and nests. Beyond risking prison and a $250,000 fine, sellers taking nests at the height of the breeding season could hurt the species already in decline.

An eBay listing of a hummingbird nest caught the eye of one naturalist early this month. Bill Hilton Jr. of York wrote the seller, who hadn't realized her error and removed the listing.

Most of the three dozen other sellers he and fellow birders have written since mid-June, Hilton said, didn't respond or tried to fudge the details.

"These birds live in my yard all year round and [are] not migratory birds," a Charlotte eBay seller who goes by "toad08" wrote in a June 20 listing of bluebird, wren, titmouse and chickadee nests.

That's wrong. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects more than 800 species, including bald eagles and Carolina chickadees. The federal law allows offenders to be punished by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The migratory bird law was a response to uncontrolled shooting of birds to sell on the meat market and to supply feathers for fashionable hats in the early 1900s. The first national wildlife refuges also sprang out of public outrage over those practices.

The law makes it a misdemeanor to even possess bird parts, feathers, eggs and nests. The biggest penalties, felonies, are for selling them.

But Internet trading is almost impossible for understaffed wildlife agencies to track. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 261 enforcement officers. Three million new items are listed each day on eBay.

Many people don't know such transactions are illegal, wildlife experts say, or their potential harm. "Empty" nests may actually hold two or three clutches of eggs a year.

"Birds need all the help they can get," Hilton said. "Stealing the eggs and nests out from under them isn't going to help matters at all."

Sandra Cleva, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife law enforcement, said hundreds of items illegal under wildlife law, including sea turtle shells and stuffed migratory birds, are traded online each day.

"It's hard to even start cataloging what may be sold on the Internet at any given time," she said. "We simply do not have the resources to pursue every sale."

Wildlife agents do periodically check online trading sites, Cleva said. She said eBay pulls illegal items when notified.

"Our general policy is that if it's illegal offline, it is illegal on eBay," company spokesman Chris Donlay said.

The numbers, again, stack the odds against vigorous security. EBay lists 25 million items, has 105 million users worldwide and $1,000 in trades change hands every second.

The two nests the Observer reported to eBay on Thursday were off the site by Friday.

But buyers could take their choice of four new listings. The four Charlotte nests "toad08" offered on eBay sold for $41, chickadee egg included.


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Old Jul 12, 2004, 6:02 PM   #2
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Very sad to think that peoples are doing anything to get money at the cost of our fragile wildlife. As if nature needed more already to the pressure we exercise with deforestation, pollution, destruction of natural habitat.

I can't conceive why people would take birds nest, eggs and sell them. I can't conceive people actually buy these. The biggest threat to the planet is the human species, we have so much to learn.

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Old Jul 12, 2004, 6:04 PM   #3
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Well, Eric, the root of the problem is money. If there weren't a profit to be made from it I don't think we'd see these sorts of things being done. Meanwhile, we can do our part by calling the sellers on it everytime that we see it happening. The online auction phenomenon makes it very easy to sell anonymously - we just have to get the auction sites like ebay aware of what's going on.
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Old Jul 12, 2004, 6:17 PM   #4
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Agree Geoff, the problem is money, and people have no idea how fragile is the ecosystem. It's really sad to think that so many people have no vision of what the planet will become if we don't stop to pressurize it the way we're doing. Everytime we loose species, the poorer we get collectively.

There's so much education to do yet, its unbelievable.


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