Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Sometime between midnight and 8 a.m. on Friday, April 11, someone shot and killed six White Ibis in the green space at White Gables in Summerville.
According to Samantha Suiter, M.A., science education specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who also lives at White Gables, the carnage was deplorable.
“The birds had very visible gunshot wounds,” she said. “One bird had her skullcap blown off and her brains were exposed. Another had his chest cavity blown out and his organs were outside of his body.
“The birds were scattered and all deceased. The birds had dew on them, indicating they were shot overnight.”
Summerville Police responded, and, Suiter said, told her that that they believed Summerville is a “quasi bird sanctuary” and the perpetrators could be charged with a felony.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the White Ibis is a coastal bird and is a protected species.
The Ibis is also protected under federal law. According to The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, “a person, association, partnership or corporation which violates the Act or its regulations is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine,…jail,…or both. Anyone who knowingly takes a migratory bird and intends to, offers to, or actually sells or barters the bird is guilty of a felony.
“All guns, traps, nets, vessels, vehicles and other equipment used in pursuing, hunting, taking, trapping, ensnaring, capturing, killing, or any attempt on a migratory bird in violation of the Act with the intent to sell or barter, must be forfeited to the U.S. and may be seized and held pending prosecution of the violator. The property is to be disposed of and accounted for by the Secretary.”
First Sgt. Lee Ellis, supervisor for Dorchester and Colleton counties, Department of Natural Resources, says it looks like the shootings were “a random act of violence. Maybe by kids with pellet guns.”
The Ibis, he said, is not a nuisance bird and does not make a lot of noise. “They are sort of like a stork, they just stand around in the water and eat crustaceans and minnows and such. They are pretty to look at.”
Ellis said under federal charges the fines could be as high as $5,000. Under South Carolina law, the fine could be as high as $1,000, up to 30 days in jail and restitution of up to $1,000. Restitution goes to the program that cares for the habitats and protection of birds.