Painted and indigo buntings breed in northern Florida, spend the winter primarily in southern Florida and can be found throughout much of the state during spring and fall migration. Poachers illegally trap these beautiful birds to sell them, often to unsuspecting members of the public. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asks members of the public to report any instances of illegal trapping to its Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 (FWCC) or by email or text to Tip@MyFWC.com.
The traps that are normally used are elaborate, large devices and can be found hanging from trees 2 to 4 feet above the ground in high grasses, where the wintering birds like to seek cover. The traps are usually left for several hours before subjects check them for captured migratory birds.
These actions are illegal and violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which protects birds from unlawful actions that harm them.
“Although the MBTA dates back to 1918, many people may not realize that even owning a migratory bird like a painted or indigo bunting is illegal,” said Maj. Alfredo Escanio, FWC Regional Commander. “We want to get the word out that these birds are protected, and ask the public to let us know if they see anyone trying to trap these birds.”