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New rule aims to protect Florida's songbirds from poachers

The rule takes effect Oct. 3.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new rule aimed at protecting Florida's native songbirds against poachers goes into place this week.

The rule includes regulations regarding the use, placement and possession of bird traps and breaking the rule could mean jail time.

The illegal trapping of native birds has long been a concern in the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, particularly in south Florida where trapping is widespread. Birds are lost from the wild population and, in many cases, may be mistreated and sometimes killed or injured when illegally trapped, according to FWC.

The rule will provide an additional tool for law enforcement officers to help stop the poaching of these birds but still allows for lawful uses of bird traps.

The rule contains exemptions for many lawful uses and contains a permitting process for individuals that trap nonnative nuisance birds but do not meet one of the exemptions in the rule. 

Violation of the new rule is a second-degree misdemeanor and the penalty for a first offense is a fine up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail, with escalating penalties for repeat offenders.

The rule takes effect Oct. 3.