Commissioner Scott Soares
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
We’ve started a DAR tradition of pricing out how much the 12 Days of Christmas (well the first eight days anyway) would cost with some help from our friends at the Department of Fish and Game. Below are this year’s estimates of French hens, turtle doves and pear trees.
Eight maids a’ milking? At $18 an hour, eight maids (or lads) a’ milking would cost around $144. It takes less than half an hour to milk a cow.
Seven swans a’ swimming could cost you in fines up to $375 – for $20 to $50 per bird plus an additional $25 – for illegal possession of mute swans. Illegal possession of the birds also carries the possible penalty of 30 days in jail. If you hold a grandfathered permit for mute swans, it will cost you $25 for the permit, but no new permits for swan ownership are issued.
Six geese a’ laying? Goslings cost about $8 a piece, but, if you sought the instant gratification of laying geese, you’d need a mating pair at $40 to $100 each or $240 to $600 for the lot. (If you want to hunt Canada geese, a hunting license is $27.50, but you also must purchase a federal duck stamp for $15 and a state waterfowl stamp for $5.)
As to five golden rings, this does not actually refer to jewelry but rather golden-ringed pheasants at a cost of $60 for five. Or, you could hunt the birds at a cost of $325 plus $10 for a hunting license at a commercial hunting preserve.
The calling birds are really Colly birds a.k.a. blackbirds. Gift wrapping these would cost between $50 and $300 in fines – at $10 to $50 per bird plus an additional fine up to $100, possible jail time of 30 days and a revoked hunting license for three years. It is illegal to hunt blackbirds in Massachusetts.
Door-to-door delivery of three hens from France could cost as much as $2,800 in airfare and paperwork. The cost rises to $4,000 for the additional cost of quarantining the birds for 30 days (a state requirement for livestock imported to Massachusetts) and incidental veterinary fees.
Two turtle doves cost $25 a-piece from a pet store licensed by the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR).
A partridge (a.k.a. a ruffed grouse) and a pear tree? A 9 foot, fruit-bearing pear tree costs about $100. Because ruffed grouse are not captive bred, the only way to obtain this bird in Massachusetts is to hunt it. A hunting license is $27.50. You also need to figure in costs for a hunting dog, your shotgun and $100 gun license!
The photos of the swans, grouse and the Canada geese are by MassWildlife’s Bill Byrne.