Fox News reports that an Arizona man suspected of driving under the influence of methamphetamine has been arrested for DUI and for the federally illegal crime of purchasing and possessing a bird of prey.
According to a statement released by the Payson Police Department in Arizona, police officers stopped a suspected DUI motorist over the weekend. When they approached the vehicle, however, they were not expecting a small owl to be riding in the car’s passenger seat.
When asked about the bird, the driver, Mason Stapley, told officers that he had purchased the owl from a local gas station for $100.
Officers arrested Stapley on suspicion of DUI, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of wildlife.
The female Western Screech Owl was released to the custody of Arizona Fish and Games and was taken to Liberty Wildlife for evaluation. Wildlife biologist Laura Hackett told reporters that the owl had been badly injured enough that it would be impossible to release her back into the wild.
Hackett said that although the owl had suffered head trauma, she was showing signs of improvement after receiving medication and care.
Hackett emphasized that not only is it illegal in Arizona to possess or sell wildlife, but the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a federal law that prohibits the possession, sale, or transportation across state lines of any bird of prey without a falconer’s or other state-required licenses.
The police also issued a warning to the public on their Facebook page:
“The Payson Police Department would also like to take this opportunity to encourage the public not to use methamphetamine, or you too may find yourself illegally purchasing a wild owl, for $100, in the middle of the night, from strangers, at a local gas station.”