Men Filmed Chillin’ With a Owl Were Violatin’ Migratory Bird Treaty Act

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chillin with a owl"We chillin' with a owl right now, we vibin'." So quoth Johnny Duverson of West Palm Beach, who along with his friend Stervenson [confirmed: Stervenson] Benjamin could be seen doing just that in a video that the two men posted on Facebook. The video also shows the men drivin', smokin', drinkin' and messin' with the owl, which may have been injured.

Unfortunately, it appears to have been a Great Horned Owl, which is a protected species. 

Duverson and Stervenson may have been unaware that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 makes it a crime to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of [the treaty]…."

They were plainly doing at least eight of those things and maybe more, depending on how they got it in the first place and what they ended up doing with it. And the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is definitely on the list, along with zillions of others ranging from the Hispaniolian Pewee and Hepatic Tanager to slightly less well-known specimens such as the Prothonotary Warbler, Stervenson's Crane, and the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. So if you happen across any of those, it is a federal crime to bother it (etc.).

Officials said they are not seeking a jail term in this case, although violating the Act can result in a six-month sentence and a $15,000 fine. They might change their minds, though, if it turns out the men took the owl home and ate it, as they suggested in the video they might.

They claimed the owl was wounded when they found it and that they drove it to "a safe place," but officials have not been able to locate it.

As we've seen, Florida is home to many other endangered species that people insist on bothering, including the manatee. It doesn't migrate very far, although it might want to consider doing so.