Woman Fined for Saving Woodpecker in Bizarre StoryPublished August 23, 2011
Flickr User guppiecat
Since my husband Marty is the passionate wild bird lover in our family, I was immediately drawn to the story recently posted on Huffingtonpost.com that featured an article about a rescued orphaned woodpecker. The outcome of the rescue was so incredible, I could hardly wait to share it with our readers.
When Virginia resident, eleven-year old Skylar Capo, discovered a baby woodpecker in her dad’s backyard who was about to become lunch for the family cat, she immediately took action to rescue the baby bird.
"I've just always loved animals,” she said. “I couldn't stand to watch it be eaten."
But since she couldn’t find the woodpecker’s mother, she enlisted the help of her mom, Alison, who agreed to take the orphaned little woodpecker home.
"She was just going to take care of it for a day or two, make sure it was safe and uninjured, and then she was going to let it go,” Alison said.
But on the way home, they stopped to shop at Lowes, so brought the baby bird inside with them to keep it out of the heat. Thus begins one of the most outrageous sagas I have yet to encounter concerning the rescue of an orphaned animal.
Once inside the store, the Capos were immediately confronted by a fellow shopper who identified herself as an employee of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Alison said, "She was really nervous. She was shaking. Then she pulled out a badge.”
Since the woodpecker is an endangered species and is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act, even though the family was not aware of these regulations, rescuing and transporting the baby woodpecker was illegal.
Upon arriving home, they opened the cage, the bird flew away and they reported the incident to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Relieved and happy with the outcome, they thought the episode was over. But no. . .
Out of the blue, about two weeks later, the woman they met at Lowes who worked for the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, accompanied by a state trooper, appeared at their doorstep. And even though Alison Capo did not accept the citation, she received a notice to appear in the U.S. District Court for "unlawfully taking a migratory bird.” Adding insult to injury she also was fined $535.
Skylar said, "Kids should be able to save a baby bird and not end up going home crying because their mom has to pay $535. I just think that's crazy.” And if convicted, her mom could even face a year in jail.
Fortunately the story has a happy ending. After completing a thorough investigation, the agent determined that no further action was necessary and cancelled the citation. A letter explaining the “clerical error” and that the ticket should never have been issued was sent to the Capos by the service.
They say, “All is well that ends well.” But must we think twice before rescuing an orphaned baby animal?
What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.