Wildlife & the Law

Many of the birds and animals we encounter are protected in some way by local and national laws.


Most birds are protected by federal laws under the "Migratory Bird Act of 1918," as well as by Massachusetts state laws. It is illegal to destroy, relocate, or possess wild birds, their nests, or their eggs. The only exceptions are non-native species—House Sparrows, European Starlings, and Rock Pigeons.

Trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators, who have passed a federal and/or state-administered test, are the only persons authorized by the state to care for injured or orphaned wildlife.

How to find a wildlife rehabilitator >


Relocating wildlife is illegal in Massachusetts. It is detrimental to the wellbeing of wildlife as well as the public. Unknowingly, sick animals may be transported and released in other locations, causing the spread of disease.

Animals released in unfamiliar territory have a hard time surviving. They must compete with resident animals, and they have difficulty finding food and shelter. It is also against state law to possess wild birds and mammals.