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The HSUS, HSLF Applaud Senate Environment Committee for Passing Bill to Help Migratory Birds

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for voting to strengthen penalties for killing birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"We applaud Senate committee members for passing this bill to crack down on illegal killing of wildlife," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The HSUS. "We thank Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and Senator Jeff Merkley for their leadership on this measure."

The committee approved H.R. 2062, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., which had previously passed the full House of Representatives in 2009. A companion bill, S. 2811, has been introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who is leading the effort in the Senate. This legislation will crack down on people who intentionally kill peregrine falcons, Cooper's hawks, red-tailed hawks and other federally protected birds. The bill gives federal prosecutors the option of pursuing higher-level penalties for maliciously killing or wounding protected birds.

In recent years, there have been horrifying examples of malicious cruelty to protected birds, such as "roller pigeon clubs" killing birds of prey through shooting, poisoning and even baiting raptors with pigeons rigged with fishing hooks, and cockfighters using baited, steel-jawed leghold traps to prevent raptors from preying on game fowl. Since the penalty for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was only a class B misdemeanor, this legislation finally provides a meaningful deterrent of prison time and hefty fines.

"Congress should send a strong message that maliciously harming or killing protected migratory birds will result in more than just a slap on the wrist," said Sen. Merkley. "While the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has been vital to conservation efforts, it's time to strengthen existing law and ensure that the penalties for killing these rare birds are stiff enough to be a real deterrent."


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.