Tree Cheers for Everglades Park Rangers

Indigo BuntingI have always felt that one of the greatest roles that our National Parks play in the world, are as sanctuary for migratory birds. We may all be somewhat familiar with bird migration patterns that take many species from the northern reaches of Canada all the way into Central and South America, and then back again each year. Obviously to make a trip like that, a bird would need to stop off and refresh the tanks all along the way. The problem for birds has been that the fuel they require exists mostly in our undeveloped lands. These areas are becoming fewer and fewer, while the role our park lands play as islands of green, becomes more and more valuable to these birds species.

So, I was particularly happy to read about Park Rangers in the Everglades National Park uncovering an entire illegal network of migratory bird crime starting with the capture of birds in the park, and then sale of these birds to underground Florida markets and to pet shops.
The defendants conducted regular sales almost every Sunday, for many months in the parking lot of a business in Hialeah. Undercover officers made direct purchases of birds from the various defendants over the course of the investigation. The informal bird market, often attended by 50 to 100 people, relocated to a local municipal park area during the undercover investigation. Over the course of the operation, officers were illegally sold over 250 protected migratory birds and were offered in excess of 3,500 birds by the illegal dealers. The investigation also led to charges and convictions against three pet store operators for possessing the same protected species in their stores.
The Painted Bunting, one of the bird species being trapped and traded, has had it's population cut in half over the course of 30 years. Rangers first uncovered the bird trade when they read on the web that traps were being set up in the park. I'm really glad they were able to bust up this ring.