Painted buntings in cage
The FWC released the birds in these photos and seized the traps.
Cages holding illegally trapped birds
Indigo bunting in cage
April 7, 2010
Contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
You may see them around your backyard feeder. They are prized for their colorful plumage. Indigo and painted buntings are migratory songbirds that winter in South Florida and migrate north in the spring, but some make a year-round home in the Sunshine State.
With their numbers declining because of habitat loss, these beautiful birds face an additional ugly threat: the exotic pet trade. The buntings, protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are frequently trapped and sold. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues to break up these rings and release the captive birds back into their natural habitats.
From April 3-6, in three separate cases, FWC investigators arrested four Miami-Dade men, charging each with the illegal possession of migratory birds, a misdemeanor. One of the men, Gustavo Castresana (DOB 03/01/80) of Hialeah, was arrested for the same violation in 2005. He was booked into the county jail and could face enhanced penalties.
Miguel Castro (DOB 07/29/57) of Homestead, Adrian Acosta-Gonzalez (DOB 11/25/72) of Miami and Ruben Echevarria-Liens (DOB 11/29/74) of Miami were in possession of bird traps, and are all facing charges.
FWC officers released 20 captive birds - 19 buntings and one cardinal.
"These birds do not belong in captivity; they belong in their natural habitats to proliferate and continue the species," said FWC Lt. Jay Marvin. "The public should be aware that trapping, possessing, buying and/or selling these birds is a violation of state and federal laws and can result in hefty fines and possible jail time."
The public is asked to call the FWC's Wildlife Alert hotline - 888-808-FWCC (3922) - if they witness any suspicious activity or any people with small, wooden bird traps.