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Mother Fined $500 For Saving Baby Woodpecker

This was reported on USA9 News and highlights how bureaucracy can cost lives.

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WUSA) -- Eleven-year-old aspiring veterinarian, Skylar Capo, sprang into action the second she learned that a baby woodpecker in her Dad's backyard was about to be eaten by the family cat. Skylar couldn't find the woodpecker's mother, so she brought it to her own mother, Alison Capo, who agreed to take it home. "She was just going to take care of it for a day or two, make sure it was safe and uninjured, and then she was going to let it go," said Capo.

But on the drive home, the Capo family stopped at a Lowes in Fredericksburg and they brought the bird inside because of the heat. That's when they were confronted by a fellow shopper who said she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "She was really nervous. She was shaking. Then she pulled out a badge," said Capo. The problem was that the woodpecker is a protected species under the Federal Migratory Bird Act.  Therefore, it is illegal to take or transport a baby woodpecker.  The Capo family says they had no idea.

So as soon as the Capo family returned home, they say they opened the cage, the bird flew away, and they reported it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But roughly two weeks later, that same woman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed up at Capo's front door. This time, Capo says the woman was accompanied by a state trooper.  Capo refused to accept a citation, but was later mailed a notice to appear in U.S. District Court for unlawfully taking a migratory bird.  She's also been slapped with a $535 fine. If convicted, Capo could face up to a year behind bars.

Eventually the fine was dismissed but not before the media reported this. Is that what it takes?

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