Federal authorities have charged two more Oregon men, Paul Rogers of Aloha and Joseph Barnett of Gresham, with unlawfully attempting to take, capture and kill red-tailed and Cooper's hawks and/or peregrine falcons, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The defendants, active in roller pigeon clubs, were charged July 9 in U.S. District Court in Portland. Additional evidence seized as part of this investigation includes Swedish goshawk traps and firearms. Previously on June 8, three Oregon men were arraigned on similar charges. A misdemeanor violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $15,000.
The charges are part of a larger investigation across the United States - Operation High Roller - that is focusing on "roller pigeon" hobbyists who kill hawks and falcons, despite their protected status under federal law. The investigation, now in its 16th month, is being conducted in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas and other states by law enforcement agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Oregon, law enforcement agents have received a number of calls related to the case and the investigation is ongoing.
Five men have been charged in Oregon to date, and in southern California seven arrests have been made. The investigation alleges that leaders and members of the National Birmingham Roller Club (NBRC) and other enthusiast organizations are responsible for killing thousands of raptors annually.
Hawks traps are large, box-like structures with walls of wire mesh, designed to bait and trap hawks, falcons and owls. They consist of two parts, a spring-loaded trap mechanism above a bait cage. The entire structure is constructed with a wooden "A" frame. See picture at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/highroller Anyone with information on the use of such traps is asked to contact Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement agents Dirk Hoy or Robert Romero at (503) 682-6131, or e-mail information to PacificLawEnforcement@fws.gov
The Audubon Society of Portland is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally killing birds of prey. The reward is part of the Society's ongoing Migratory Bird Protection Fund. The Audubon Society of Portland's many bird conservation activities include a significant effort to restore peregrine falcon populations in the Portland area. The Society also manages a wildlife rehabilitation program based at the Wildlife Care Center on NW Cornell Road in Portland.
Migratory birds are among our most highly valued natural resources and require regional, national and international conservation programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conserves and manages the 913 native species/populations of migratory birds, including many raptors, in the United States in partnership with others to fulfill international treaty obligations and U.S. trust responsibilities. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is the primary legislation in the United States established to conserve migratory birds. The act prohibits the taking, killing or possession of migratory birds unless permitted by the Secretary of the Interior. Authorized take and possession is focused on a limited number of allowable activities such as research, rehabilitation, education, depredation control and other purposes.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 National Fish Hatcheries, 64 Fishery Resources Offices and 81 Ecological Services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.