The cult of the “cult of the swallow” has gained new momentum in the wake of a string of high-profile deaths of swallows in the United States, and the introduction of legislation that would outlaw the trade.
A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives recently introduced legislation that could criminalize the trade, saying that the “culture of the swallows” has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 people, including some of the most celebrated swallows of all time.
“A lot of people think of swallaws as a kind of religious symbol or a symbol of nature,” Rep. Scott Peters, a New York Democrat, told CNN on Monday.
“And while they do have that, they’re not really a symbol for anything.
They’re a symbol that’s used to scare people away from certain things.”
Peters’ legislation would criminalize certain types of “cult” and would make it a felony for any person who “intentionally or knowingly” kills a swallow.
It would also give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authority to seize the carcasses of the killed swallows if they were found in public areas.
It would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to the legislation.
The legislation was introduced by Reps.
Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Ted Poe, R -Texas, who represent the Texas district that includes the city of Dallas.
“Cultists, who worship at the altars of their idols, are not only committing crimes against the environment and wildlife, they are also committing crimes on a mass scale,” Poe said in a statement on Monday about the legislation, which he introduced earlier this month.
“I’m not sure that this legislation will change the reality of the death of the species, but it will make it easier for officials to prosecute those who kill swallows, and help prevent the spread of a species-defining disease,” Poe added.
The bill is being touted by a group called The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which said the proposed legislation would “encourage law enforcement to act aggressively against those who seek to exploit and abuse our wild places.”
“We applaud Representative Cole’s leadership in bringing this important legislation to the House floor,” said American Society of Mammalogy president Tom Steyer, in a separate statement.
“He is doing a fantastic job leading this important issue.
We hope he will bring this bill to the floor as soon as possible.”
In May, a swallow was found to have a severe respiratory condition, but the animal was still alive when a local animal shelter released it to a veterinarian.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.