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CT: Police seeking trapper who killed a barred owl

December 3, 2009

DEP Police Investigate Killing Of Protected Owl

Environmental police are looking for the poacher who trapped and killed a barred owl a federally protected bird in East Haddam last week.

The bird was found in an illegal trap in a wooded area of the Moodus section of town Nov. 25. Attempts to save the injured owl failed, and it was euthanized by a local veterinarian, the state Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement Thursday.

The DEP's EnCon police seized the trap, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting tests on the owl.

"We hope that the forensic results and a joint investigation by our two agencies will determine how the owl came to be in the trap," said DEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette. "What concerns us most is that the characteristics of this trap indicate it was used by a poacher who exhibited a flagrant disregard for the law."

She said poaching a barred owl violates the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and carries fines of up to $15,000, and up to 6 months in jail.

The trap, an unpadded foothold trap, is only legal in Connecticut when placed under water. They are meant to be used for capturing aquatic animals such as beavers and muskrats, Frechette said.

Barred owls are stocky in stature, with broad wings and a short tail.

"This situation cannot be equated with trapping, which is highly regulated in Connecticut," said Frechette. "Responsibly conducted, trapping can alleviate or prevent property damage caused by beavers and muskrats including flooding of land and homes and the destruction of wells, roads or septic systems."

She said trapping, raccoons, coyotes and fishers also helps prevent crop damage or attacks on livestock, and is also used as a tool to protect threatened and endangered species.

Anyone with information on this case can call the DEP 24-hour emergency line at 860-424-3333.

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