When Can Bird Hunters be Imprisoned?

hunter with his catch

When Can Bird Hunters be Imprisoned?

Hunting is one of the means by which human ancestors learned to survive and build civilization. But over thousands of years, many animals, especially birds, are near extinction and must be protect. For this reason, the U.S. government has enacted several laws that threaten imprisonment for bird hunters who do not obey the rules. Still, it is possible to hunt birds legally and without punishment.

American Legal Acts Protecting Birds

The United States government has created a number of laws to protect birds of all different shapes and sizes. Here are two:

• The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 outlaws taking, importing, exporting, buying, selling, or bartering of any migratory bird, in part or whole. Whether a whole bird is killed or wounded or a feather is simply captured, this law provides between six months to two years in prison as well as fines of up to $250,00 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations for its violators.

• The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits selling, killing, or possessing bald and golden eagles. Beyond imprisonment for bird bunting of eagles, it also makes the collection of their feathers, eggshells, and body parts illegal. Amended several times throughout the last several decades, punishments for breaking this law since 1972 have included up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for a first conviction while a second conviction includes a fine of $100,000,000 and ten years in prison.

approaching prey

Hunting Birds Legally

All states have various laws that state when and where people might hunt birds and other wildlife. Some of these have provisions that exceed those of the laws outlined above. To be safe and to not risk imprisonment for bird hunting, knowing the laws of the state in which one is hunting is highly recommended.
Most states also necessitate a hunting license. Some of these are general while others are more specific. If you have a hunting license in one state that does not mean you can hunt in another. And many hunting licenses do not permit bird hunting. Make sure you figure out what you want to hunt before you head out to the
woods, check the laws, and get the proper hunting license from the correct state agency.

hunter shooting


Imprisonment for bird hunting is no laughing matter. The laws that are on the books must be taken seriously and followed lest you risk multiple years behind bars. If you know any other hunters who might be endangering themselves by hunting illegally, send them this article. It may just keep a friend out of prison.

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