Aug. 12, 2019

Bird cages sitting outside a Lehigh Acres home caught the attention of a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer who found them filled with illegally trapped migratory birds.

The man in possession of the birds, Arturo Granados Frias, 66, of Lehigh Acres, was charged with multiple violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, each a second-degree misdemeanor and animal cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The wildlife officer was on patrol July 19 when he spotted the cages while on Alabama Drive in Lehigh Acres, when the officer saw a house with several bird cages in the front yard and in the garage.

Bird cages sitting outside at a Lehigh Acres home caught the attention of a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer who found them illegally filled with 17 migratory birds. Four of the birds klater died. (Photo: Special to The News-Press/FWC)

After asking a man sitting in the driveway at the home if she could look at the birds, Wildlife Officer Beatrice Parker noticed a cage with numerous birds that she identified as buntings.

Closer inspection by Parker found nine Indigo buntings and eight painted buntings, all of which are illegal to possess under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The birds appeared to be in very poor health and were taken to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife to be assessed and rehabilitated. Four of the birds did not survive.

The FWC said the illegal trapping of native birds has been a long-time concern in the state, particularly in south Florida where trapping is believed to be widespread.

Bird cages sitting outside at a Lehigh Acres home caught the attention of a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer who found them illegally filled with 17 migratory birds. Four of the birds klater died. (Photo: Special to The News-Press/FWC)

Birds are lost from the wild population, the FWC said and, in many cases, may be mistreated and are sometimes killed or injured when illegally trapped.

A new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rule to help protect Florida’s native songbirds from illegal capture includes regulations regarding the use, placement and possession of bird traps, and goes into effect later this year.

The new rule provides an additional tool for law enforcement officers to help stop the poaching of these birds, while still allowing for lawful uses of bird traps.

The FWC is encouraging the public to report any instances of illegal trapping to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) or by email or text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

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