Did you know that just possessing a feather from certain species of birds could land you in jail in Minnesota?
Most of us are probably familiar with the law that makes it illegal to possess a feather from a bald eagle, right? (Specifically, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits the possession of eagle feathers by non-Native Americans. And anyone convicted of violating the law could face a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail!)
But did you know that possessing feathers from other birds common to Minnesota-- like, say, our state bird, the common loon, is ALSO illegal here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? It's true, and it's all detailed in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918.
The possession of feathers and other parts of native North American birds without a permit is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This protects wild birds by preventing their killing by collectors and the commercial trade in their feathers, and extends to all feathers, regardless of how they were obtained. There is no exemption for molted feathers or those taken from road or window-killed birds.
And, according to AllAboutBirds.com, the common loon is, in fact, a migratory bird. It spends its winters along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina south to Florida or on the Gulf of Mexico before heading north here to Minnesota in the spring.
This means if you happen to have a loon feather in your possession, you could be subject to some serious punishment. The MBTA also states that:
Any person, association, partnership, or corporation who shall violate any provisions of said conventions or of this subchapter, or who shall violate or fail to comply with any regulation made pursuant to this subchapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $15,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
A fine of $15,000 and six months in the clink?!? Geez, the MBTA doesn't mess around! And, of course, the MBTA doesn't only apply to common loons, either. You can check the full list of protected birds (including some of which are common to Minnesota) HERE.
And birds aren't the only animals that can get you in trouble. Did you know there's an entire list of furry and feathered creatures you can't legally own here in Rochester? Keep scrolling to see which animals they are!