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eBay Suspends Bald Eagle Parts Auction
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GROVEPORT, Ohio - When Barry Hochstettler saw that eBay was allowing the auctioning of European Starling skulls and skins, he figured, "Why not Bald Eagles?" So he set out to hunt and trap several of the protected birds. "It wasn't a cheap trip," he lamented, "I put over $3,500 into getting out to California, hiring spotters, paying off local officials. Now what am I supposed to do?" eBay pulled his auctions just hours before they were to close, canceling thousands of dollars worth of bids.

"It seems a bit gruesome to think anyone would want to do this to an animal."
-- Animal rights attorney Harmon Larsky
Increasingly, eBay is turning its back on the illegal auctioneer. "It's simply bad for business," explained Margaret C. Whitman, eBay President and CEO, "We want to promote a safe, comfortable, legal environment for people to bid on items. Allowing the sale of Bald Eagle skulls, livers, and other disgusting items could easily turn people against us. And of course, we need to remain within the bounds of the law ourselves." When shown the auctions currently underway for skins and parts of starlings, Whitman responded, "But aren't those 'nuisance birds' anyway? Who cares, right?"

While starlings, partridges, and other fowl may not enjoy federal protection as the National Bird, they still are afforded some rights under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. "According to the act," said animal rights attorney Harmon Larsky, "Any animal destroyed for 'nuisance' reasons must not then be reused as a commercial product. Clearly, these auctions are in violation of that provision of the act. And to be totally honest," he added, "It seems a bit gruesome to think anyone would want to do this to an animal. A politician maybe, some might even suggest a lawyer. But not a bird."

While the Eagle case may have received much media attention, it is the starlings, the partridges, and the other animals that have average citizens voicing their complaints. "Starlings are not a nuisance bird!" exclaimed Gina Wheatley, "They eat the insects that people hate -- Japanese beetles, caterpillars, cutworms -- while also serving as prey birds for animals higher up the food chain. Maybe worst of all, they are such intelligent birds, it makes me sick to think people are killing them to sell their parts." To bring about a change on eBay, Wheatley encourages people to sign an online petition, to be presented to eBay.

"I don't care about petitions or starlings or what have you," said a frustrated Hochstettler, "I want to know how I'm gonna get my money back outta these Eagles." Unfortunately for Hochstettler, the notoriety of his auction has brought federal charges his way. "Not only am I out the money, but it looks like I may be doing time for this. Those starling guys are making a few bucks off every bird they snare, and I'm headed for the slammer. Where's the justice in that?" Investigators are examining the other auctions to see if the sellers or eBay itself are actually breaking any law. "We'll stop it if we can," said one officer on condition of anonymity, "We just haven't determined if the law's on our side yet or not. Grotesque? Yes. But illegal? We'll have to wait and see."

[Author's Note: While no bald eagle parts are available on eBay, starling skins and other macabre animal items are. eBay surely wouldn't care if one or two of us didn't like that, but if thousands of people voiced their opinion, maybe we could get them to stop it. If you would prefer that starlings and other animals not be killed to have their parts sold on eBay, please drop by and sign the petition. -- Thanks]
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