Is It Legal To Euthanize A Bird?

No, it is illegal to euthanize a bird. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that all wild birds including migratory birds (except pigeons, English sparrows, and starlings) are protected by law. 

It is illegal to take, possess, trap, injure, or kill any of these birds even if they are in your backyard.

Many residents complain that the birds are causing a nuisance. People find it easy to simply shoot the bird but it is not the quickest solution as it can land you in a bigger problem. 

It is illegal to euthanize a bird. Only licensed people can do that only in case the bird is orphaned, injured, or has gone too far to recover.

What Is Euthanizing?

Euthanizing is the process of putting a bird or animal to sleep because life will be too painful for them. 

It is generally performed on birds who are injured, orphaned, and cannot be saved. It can be understood as mercy killing to end the suffering of the bird. It is a painless procedure. 

The bird is sent in a state of unconsciousness by giving it anesthesia so that they simply drift into an endless peace without any pain.  

It is a procedure that can only be performed by licensed veterinarians and technicians who hold a valid license from competent authorities. 

You cannot euthanize a migratory, protected, or threatened bird all by yourself.

What Happens If You Euthanize A Protected Bird?

There is a reason why a bird is put into the “protected” category. Either, they are U.S. native birds, they are endangered species or they are migratory birds that are visiting from other countries. U.S. 

Fish and Wildlife Services, Migratory Birds Treaty Act, The Endangered Species Act, etc are some laws that prohibit the killing of a protected bird.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act also specifies that killing a protected bird for the first time may land you in jail for one year and a penalty under title 18. 

The Endangered Species Act also specifies that if you kill an endangered or threatened bird you may be fined a maximum of $50000 or one year of imprisonment or both.

What Is The Penalty For Euthanizing A State Bird?

The different acts protect different species of birds. All wild birds, as stated above, are protected under U.S. laws. Killing them is a criminal offense and penalties are imposed. 

Related Read: What Not To Feed Wild Birds? ( Harmful Foods For Wild Birds )

Title 18 states that for misdemeanor offenses against migratory birds, an individual shall be fined for a maximum of $5000 and a $10000 fine for the organization.

If the law is breached for a second time and subsequently after it, the individuals shall be fined a maximum of $2,50,000 with imprisonment not more than two years. 

The organization shall be fined for $100000 maximum.  

What To Do If You Find A Sick Or Injured Bird?

The first thought that comes to mind is to put the bird out of suffering by snapping its neck quickly. It may result in a quick death for sure. 

There are methods you can use to euthanize a chicken in your backyard if it breaks a leg or is so sick that death would be a better option.

In the case of a migratory bird or a protected bird, the first thing you should do is to call a vet or take it to them. 

They can diagnose and determine the problem and whether the bird will make it or not. 

You can also remove the bird from its place and keep it in a towel in a box and call the local wildlife rescue organization. They can pick up the bird and euthanize it if needed.

If you talk about veterinarians, the licensed veterinarians are not required to have a migratory bird permit to euthanize a sick or injured bird. 

They need to call a migratory bird rehabilitator or Regional Migratory Bird Permit Office within a specified time.

What Can You Do If You Find A Migratory Bird In a Bad Condition?

  • As a common citizen, you are allowed to remove a migratory bird or protected bird from a building or structure only if it is necessary for the health of humans, livestock, or the bird itself.
  • You cannot use any measures to remove the bird which may cause it harm including tapes or raptor. It is advised that you free the bird in suitable habitat after capturing it. Keeping it is not permitted.
  • If the migratory bird you find is ill or injured, call the local rehabilitator immediately.
  • If the bird dies during removal, you must dispose of it immediately or contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife Service to donate the carcass if needed for scientific research.
  • In case the bird is on the list of endangered or threatened species, do not remove the bird and contact the concerned authorities.
  • If you do not have a permit, trapping, killing, or holding the protected birds is illegal.

Is It Right To Euthanize A Bird?

It depends on how you see it. If a bird is being put to sleep for the sole reason that it is becoming a nuisance, there are other ways to take care of the problem. 

If the bird is attacking you, which they generally don’t, or messing your yard with their droppings, you need to see what attracts them to your yard.   

In case the bird is ill, injured, or orphaned and is going to suffer till death, it is considered better to put it to sleep than letting it die a painful death. 

Many people whose pet birds have reached the end stage of life and it is time for them to go, want to end the misery of their beloved pet and take the help of a veterinarian to help the bird drift into another world while they are unconscious. 

Related Read: How To Cope With The Loss Of My Pet Bird

For migratory, endangered, and threatened birds, the guidelines have been shared above

Many people consider it unethical to be the one who decides if the bird lives or dies. In the end, you can say, it is all about how you think, what your values and ethics are.

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