Cases

  • Sam Jaksick, Michael Boyce, and Chris Christensen were charged with conspiring to violate both the Airborne Hunting Act (AHA), 16 U.S.C. 742j-1 and the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981.  They were also charged with knowingly using a helicopter to harass bighorn sheep in violation of the AHA.  After a  jury acquitted of the last two charges, the government, still convinced that the bighorn sheep had been harassed by the hunters, then brought this forfeiture action.  While the court denied the forfeiture based for the most part on actions by the government in the case, it did hold that defendants' use of the helicopter to get as close as possible to identify the best trophy ram constituted sufficient intent for harassment under the Airborne Hunting Act. 

  • The court first concluded that venue was proper for the smuggling charges and the conspiracy charge. Turning to the convictions, the court found that his convictions of felony conspiracy and smuggling were supported by sufficient evidence. The court rejected his argument that the general smuggling law was inapplicable to the acts for which he was convicted because Congress had separately criminalized this conduct as a misdemeanor under the Endangered Species Act.

  • This case arose out of the seizure of some 15,538 lobster tails of the species Panulirus argus, more commonly known as "spiny lobster," imported into the United States by the Claimant Lista Enterprises Seafood, Inc. from the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean.  The court held the government had probable cause to seize the lobster tails based on the weight criteria established under Turks and Caicos law.  Under the Lacey Act, anyone who "knowingly" imports fish or wildlife taken in violation of foreign law may be assessed a penalty of $10,000 per violation, where "knowingly" refers to situations where the violator knew or should have known that the wildlife was taken in violation of law.

  • After defendant was found fishing in the Cay Sal Bank area of the Bahamas, Coast Guard officers informed appellant that possession of a Bahamian fishing license was necessary to fish in those waters and that failure to possess such a license would render such fishing a contravention of the United States Lacey Act.  On appeal, defendant contended that the Lacey Act is unconstitutional in that it incorporates foreign law, thereby delegating legislative power to foreign governments.  The court found that the Lacey Act which prohibited the possession or importation of fish and wildlife taken in violation of foreign laws, was not an improper delegation of legislative power simply by its reference to foreign law.

  • Santillan was prosecuted under the Lacey Act for bringing ten baby parrots across the border from Tijuana. His appeal raises, among other issues, a significant question about the mens rea needed under the Lacey Act.  The court held that the Lacey Act does not require knowledge of the particular law violated by the possession or predicate act, as long as the defendant knows of its unlawfulness.

  • During the two year period alleged in the indictment, between September 1993 and September 1995, government agents found or were directed to four illegal bear snares in Colville National Forest, Washington that were later linked to defendant.  The Lacey Act provision that makes it felony to knowingly engage in conduct that involves intent to sell wildlife with market value in excess of $350 encompasses several types of conduct in furtherance of commercial activity (transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, and purchasing wildlife) and government could aggregate value of parts related to such conduct to arrive at requisite $350 value, because defendant's various acts formed a single continuing scheme.

  • Defendant was convicted of possessing Bald Eagle feathers in violation of Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) after receiving the feathers in the mail from a friend to complete a craft project.  On appeal, defendant challenged her conviction, alleging that she did not possess the requisite knowledge and that the act itself was vague as to the level of intent, or scienter .  The court affirmed defendant's conviction finding that the evidence established that defendant knowingly possessed eagle feathers in violation of MBTA, the conviction did not amount to punishment of wholly passive conduct contrary to defendant's suggestion, and that MBTA was not vague nor overbroad with regard to intent.  For further discussion on the intersection of the MBTA and the Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion of the Eagle Act .

  • Defendant challenged his felony indictment under the MBTA after selling an "invitation stick" that contained golden eagle feathers.  The court held that the act encompasses migratory birds parts, not just whole birds so the indictment would stand.  However, in a unique decision it held that the imposition of a felony conviction would violate due process where the statute does not specify any degree of intent.  As a result, the court said it would sentence defendant under the misdemeanor provision of the statute if convicted.  For further discussion on the intersection of the intent component of the MBTA with the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • These three cases arose out of an undercover investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) into the illegal taking and sale of wildlife in interstate commerce, where defendants were engaged in the guiding and hunting business wherein customers would pay for illegal big game hunts.  The court denied defendants' defense of outrageous government conduct and entrapment.  It also held that the Lacey Act clearly notifies individuals that participation in prohibited transactions involving wildlife with a market value greater than $350 subjects them to felony prosecutions, thus defeating defendants' challenge of vagueness to the statute.  Notably, the court reversed convictions on the fact that the provision of guiding services or providing a hunting permit does not constitute the sale of wildlife for purposes of the Lacey Act (this was amended in 1988 to include guide services, which overturned this decision.  See U.S. v. Atkinson, 966 F.2d 1270 (9th Cir. 1992). 

  • Note that certiorari was granted in 2009 by --- S.Ct. ----, 2009 WL 1034613 (U.S. Apr 20, 2009). In this case, the Third Circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, the federal law that criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty, is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The defendant in this case was convicted after investigators arranged to buy three dogfighting videos from defendant in sting operation.  Because the statute addresses a content-based regulation on speech, the court considered whether the statute survived a strict scrutiny test. The majority was unwilling to extend the rationale of Ferber outside of child pornography without direction from the Supreme Court.  The majority found that the conduct at issue in § 48 does not give rise to a sufficient compelling interest.
  • Defendant was convicted of violating statute prohibiting the commercial creation, sale, or possession of depictions of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court held that the statute was unconstitutional for being substantially overbroad: it did not require the depicted conduct to be cruel, extended to depictions of conduct that were only illegal in the State in which the creation, sale, or possession occurred, and because the exceptions clause did not substantially narrow the statute's reach. (2011 note:  18 U.S.C. § 48 was amended following this ruling in late 2010).

  • The court held that the "second or subsequent conviction" component of the BGEPA applies to separate convictions charged in a single indictment.  For further discussion on the enhanced penalty provision of the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • The defendant moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that Maine section 7613 (related to the importation of fish bait species) places an impermissible burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  While the court noted there is nothing in either the statute or its legislative history which expresses the clear intent of Congress that the Lacey Act Amendments are meant to insulate state legislation from attack under the Commerce Clause, it found that the somewhat unique characteristics associated with Maine's wild fish population, the substantial uncertainties surrounding the effects these organisms have on fish and the unpredictable consequences attending the introduction of exotic species into Maine's wild fish population (including the introduction of fish parasites into the native population), the state clearly has a legitimate and substantial purpose in prohibiting the importation of live bait fish. 

  • Defendant appeals a civil forfeiture action under the BGEPA.  In applying the three-part Callahan test to defendant's free exercise claim, the court holds that while defendant's religious exercise is substantially burdened, the government has a compelling interest in protecting a rare species and effectuates this interest in the least restrictive means.  The court declines to consider defendant's free exercise challenge to the permit process, as defendant failed to apply for a permit and thus lacks standing.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • The issue in this case is whether Edward A. Thomas, a Montana hunting guide and outfitter, may be found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act where the alleged object of the conspiracy was "to transport, receive and acquire elk in interstate commerce ... in violation of Montana state hunter's law."  The Court held that while a prosecution under the Lacey Act may not be sustained for the substantive acts of selling guiding services and hunting permits, an action can be maintained for conspiracies to violate the Act through these types of acts.  In this case, the underlying violations were acts of hunting with a transferred license or permit where the acts were allegedly committed by others.

  • Act May 25, 1900, c. 553, Sec. 4, 31 Stat. 188, incorporated in former section 393 of Title 18, was limited in its application to animals or birds killed in violation of game laws, and animals or birds killed during the open season - "the export of which is not prohibited by law," according to the court.  The court held an indictment would not stand for a failure to mark a package containing game killed during the open season but the export of which was prohibited by the law of the state where the same was killed.

  • The district court did not err by denying the defendant's proposed entrapment instruction and that Nev. Admin. Code 504.471 is not unconstitutionally vague. He did not present evidence to support his position on either element. Rather than indicating government inducement or lack of predisposition, the evidence showed that the government merely provided the defendant with an opportunity to sell what he was already ready and willing to sell. The court also found the meaning of "wildlife" under Nevada law was not unconstitutionally vague.

  • Larry Todd and James Short appeal their convictions for conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act which prohibits the sale of wildlife taken or possessed in violation of federal law--here, The Airborne Hunting Act, 16 U.S.C. § 742j-1 (1976).  The court held that the judge's failure to give instructions related to the dates of the alleged acts constituting the conspiracy did not raise an ex post facto challenge since the facts allege only two overt acts that occurred prior to the effective date of the Lacey Act amendments; all of the other acts occurred during the effective period of the amendments and most of the evidence focused on events that occurred within the effective date of the amendments.  The appellants also contend that the government failed to establish that the game taken had a market value in excess of $350.   The court held that the evidence was insufficient to support Short's conviction under the substantive violation of the Lacey Act because the government offered no evidence that the value of the dead eagle, deer, or javelina exceeded $350.

  • Kei Tomono pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(1) & 3373(d)(1)(B), and the federal anti-smuggling statute, 18 U.S.C. § 545, in connection with his illegal importation of reptiles. At sentencing, the district court granted a three-level downward departure for what it termed "cultural differences."  The court held that "cultural differences" were not significant enough to remove this case from the body of cases contemplated by the Sentencing Guidelines so as to allow for downward departure.

  • Defendant alleged that his treaty-based hunting rights incorporate a right to sell eagles.  The court disagreed, finding such an interpretation of those treaty rights contrary to Indian custom and religion.  Court also holds that defendant lacks standing to raise a religious challenge to the BGEPA based on the religious rights of others.  Court is likewise unpersuaded by defendant's overbreadth claim.  For further discussion on the abrogation of Indian treaty rights under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • A grand jury indicted Defendants on multiple counts of, among other things, knowingly and willfully conspiring to kill, transport, offer for sale, and sell migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (Count I) and unlawfully trafficking in migratory bird parts (Count II – IV). On appeal, as at the district court, Defendants argued that the counts to which they pled guilty were improperly charged as felonies because it was only a misdemeanor under the MBTA to sell migratory bird feathers. The court concluded first, that even under Defendants' interpretation of the MBTA, Count I charged a felony; and, second, that in regard to Count II, the allegations stated a misdemeanor only, not a felony. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, as to Count I, but reversed in part as to Count II. The court also vacated the sentence on both Counts, vacated the felony conviction on Count II, and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion. On remand, the Defendants were given the option to withdraw their guilty pleas with regard to Count II, or the district court might consider whether to resentence their convictions on that count as misdemeanors.
  • The United States Fish and Wildlife Services investigated a tip that the defendant was selling eagle parts in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Upon appeal, the defendant argued that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the undercover agent’s warrantless use of a concealed audio visual device to record the transaction inside the defendant’s home, but the appeals court disagreed.  However, the appeals court reversed  the defendant's conviction on Counts 2 or 3 and Counts 4 or 5 because those counts were multiplicitous.

  • After a government agent recorded a sale of eagle parts using a concealed audio visual device, the agent obtained a warrant and arrested the defendant for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Upon appeal, the defendant challenged his jury conviction arguing two Constitutional violations, a Federal Rules of Evidence violation, and multiplicitous counts. The appeals court affirmed the jury conviction on all claims except the multiplicitous counts claim; this conviction was reversed. This opinion was Amended and Superseded on Denial of Rehearing by U.S. v. Wahchumwah , 710 F.3d 862 (9th Cir., 2012).

  • Defendant was a member of a recognized Indian tribe who killed an eagle upon his reservation.  The Court holds that it will not find an intent by Congress to abrogate Indian hunting rights under the BGEPA where the statute did not explicitly state that those rights were abrogated.  For further discussion on abrogation of Indian treaty rights under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • This opinion was vacated by the Hardman order.  Defendant was not a member of a federally-recognized tribe nor a person of Native American ancestry, but sincerely practiced Native American religions.  In response to Wilgus's free exercise challenge, the court held that the Act is a neutral, generally applicable law, falling within the safe-harbor created by Employment Division v. Smith .  For further discussion on the status of formerly recognized tribes under the BGEPA, please see Detailed Discussion.

  • Defendant Wilgus, while not a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe, but a sincere adherent to Native American faiths, was found in possession of 137 eagle feathers during a routine traffic stop, contrary to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). This case was initially remanded to District Court to determine whether government's scheme to protect eagle-feathers was the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interests in protecting eagles and Native American religions, as required by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, 606 F.Supp.2d 1308, held that the scheme violated the RFRA and the Government appealed here. The Court of Appeals found that the government's existing scheme for issuing eagle feather possession permits and enforcing the Eagle Act is the least restrictive means of forwarding the government's compelling interests.

  • Defendants charged with unlawfully taking an endangered species and unlawfully possessing, carrying and transporting an endangered species within the United States in violation of the Endangered Species Act filed motions to suppress all evidence, including undersized lobsters and a sea turtle seized in connection with their stop and arrest after they had been stopped on suspicion of being illegal immigrants.   The District Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of St. Croix suppressed the evidence, finding that although the approaching police officer had reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity was taking place at the time the stop was made, the subsequent confinement of Defendants and search of their vehicle exceeded the limited purpose of the investigative stop.
  • Kenneth Ray Williams appealed his conviction for the illegal hunting of moose in violation of the Lacey Act. Williams claimed that his conviction should be overturned because the government failed to establish the validity of use of the wildlife law against a tribe member. The United States argued that there is no need for the government to establish the validity of the law's use against a tribe member.  The court affirmed the conviction and held that the government must establish the validity of the use of wildlife laws against tribe members but that similar laws enacted by the tribe can establish this validity.

  • This matter comes before the court on a Motion to Dismiss the Indictment filed by the defendant. The defendant, Ed Winddancer, was indicted on six counts relating to possessing and bartering eagle feathers and feathers plucked from other migratory birds. Winddancer did not have standing to challenge the manner in which the MBTA has been administered against him, because applying for a permit under the MBTA would not have been clearly futile. With regard to the BGEPA, the court found that defendant showed that the BGEPA substantially burdens his ability to possess eagle feathers. However, the court found that he did not show that his desire to possess the feathers arises from a sincere religious belief. Further, the court found that the government indeed has a compelling interest in protecting the bald and golden eagle, especially since there is no reasonable forensic method by which law enforcement can determine if a bird was accidentally or intentionally killed, killed a hundred years ago, or killed yesterday.

  • Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts under the MBTA after agents determined that he killed 250 great blue herons; he then went to trial on the remaining counts under the MBTA and BGEPA related to his killing of a juvenile bald eagle on his commercial fish growing operation. On appeal, defendant contended that he cannot be found guilty under the MBTA unless the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew the bird he was shooting was protected and intentionally shot it with that knowledge (defendant stated that he shot a "big brown hawk'). The court disagreed, finding the overwhelming authority requires no such specific scienter on the part of the actor. With regard to defendant's contention that the government failed to prove the "knowingly" prong of the BGEPA, the court was equally unpersuaded. The evidence demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knowingly shot the eagle as it sat perched on the dead pine tree on the edge of his property, regardless of whether he knew the juvenile bird was an eagle or, as he said, “a big brown hawk.”

  • Parasail operators challenged the validity of a state law that banned parasailing in navigable waters.  Both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.  The District Court held first that the statute in question was preempted by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and second, that the Endangered Species Act did not repeal the MMPA's preemption provision.  Judgment for the parasail operators.

  • Some parasail operators brought an action against state officials challenging validity of a state law that banned parasailing in navigable waters. Defendants argued that the court's order should be reconsidered in light of an intervening change in federal law that they say allows for the seasonal parasailing ban.  After vacation of summary judgment in favor of operators, 2005 WL 1910497, the state moved for relieve from final judgment.  The District Court held that the federal law permitting Hawaii to enforce state laws regulating recreational vessels for purpose of conserving and managing humpback whales did not violate separation of powers doctrine, and federal law did not violate Equal Protection Clause.

  • A Pennsylvania association consisting of hunters and outdoorsmen and members of the association filed a complaint/request for writ of mandamus against the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and various state officials, seeking an order directing Commission and DCNR to provide the data and information on which the Commission relied in setting "harvest" figures for Pennsylvania's deer population. Before this Court in our original jurisdiction are the preliminary objections of the Pennsylvania Game Commission , the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and certain Commonwealth officers (collectively, Respondents). The court first found that the Sportsmen indeed have standing, conferred both by statute and under the under the traditional substantial-direct-immediate test. However, Respondent Game Commission's demurrer was sustained, primarily because the court agreed that due to the ambiguous nature of Sportsmen's pleading, it is not possible to discern a legal theory to support the relief requested. Further, the court sustained Respondent's claim that the DCNR, its Secretary, and the state's Governor were not proper parties to association's suit. Despite these procedural defects, the court did not dismiss the Sportsmen's action, and instead allowed them to amend their complaint within 30 days of this order.

  • In June 2010, a private non-profit corporation that contracted with the City of Chattanooga to provide animal-welfare services, received complaints of neglect and unsanitary conditions at a mall pet store. Investigations revealed animals in unpleasant conditions, without water, and with no working air conditioner in the store. Animals were removed from the store, as were various business records, and the private, contracted non-profit began to revoke the store's pet-dealer permit. Pet store owners brought a § 1983 suit in federal district court against the City of Chattanooga; McKamey; and McKamey employees Karen Walsh, Marvin Nicholson, Jr., and Paula Hurn in their individual and official capacities. The Owners alleged that the removal of its animals and revocation of its pet-dealer permit without a prior hearing violated procedural due process and that the warrantless seizure of its animals and business records violated the Fourth Amendment. Walsh, Nicholson, Hurn, and McKamey asserted qualified immunity as a defense to all claims. On appeal from district court decision, the Sixth Circuit held the following: Hurn, acting as a private animal-welfare officer, could not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in her personal capacity because there was no history of immunity for animal-welfare officers and allowing her to assert qualified immunity was not consistent with the purpose of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Walsh and Nicholson acting both as private animal-welfare officers and as specially-commissioned police officers of the City of Chattanooga, may assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their personal capacities. With respect to entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in the procedural due-process claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit. Regarding entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records.Because qualified immunity was not an available defense to an official-capacity suit, the court held that employees may not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their official capacities. The district court’s entry of summary judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
  • A man was charged and convicted for violating the Lacey Act after illegally selling a tiger and grizzly bear.  The trial court admitted the man's conversation into evidence in which he implicated himself in the illegal sale of a grizzly bear.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court holding the man's conversation was not protected by the Sixth Amendment because it was made before there were specific charges against him for the illegal sale of the grizzly bear.

  • On a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of the 2015 Rule (80 Fed.Reg. 12702 ), the US District Court for the District of Columbia addressed whether the U.S. Department of Interior acted within its authority when it issued Lacey Act regulations prohibiting the interstate transportation of certain large constricting snakes. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers argued that since the Lacey Act “[did] not encompass transportation of listed species between two states within the continental United States,” the Department of Interior exceeded its authority. Relying on the history of zebra mussels and bighead carp, the Department argued that it did not. The Court, however, found the Department had failed to establish that that history was sufficient to confer an authority on the Department that Congress did not confer when it enacted the controlling statutory text. The Court ruled the preliminary injunction would issue and ordered the parties to appear for a status conference on May 18, 2015 to address the scope of the injunction.
  • Seeking compensatory and injunctive relief, Plaintiffs commenced a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendants County of Erie, Erie County Sheriff's Department, and John Does 1 and 2; Defendants Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ("SPCA") and a SPCA peace officer; and a dog control officer based on alleged searches of Plaintiffs' property and seizure of animals purportedly belonging to Plaintiffs. After reviewing the defendants moved for summary judgment, the district court granted and dismissed the motion in part.

  • A couple owned and operated a caviar business.  They were convicted of violating the Lacey Act by purchasing and selling paddlefish eggs during the closed season, falsifying records and operating a fish dealership without a license.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.  This Judgment was Vacated by Hale v. U.S ., 125 S.Ct. 2914 (2005).

  • The jury convicted the Allemands of conspiring to export illegally taken wildlife and to file false records concerning wildlife intended for export.  The court held that any error in the trial court's failure to instruct the jury that it could convict for conspriacy to make and submit false records concerning wildlife export only if conspirators intended to violate the law it was amended in 1988 was harmless where almost all the evidence adduced at trial related to acts from a time after the amendment was effective.

  • On July 7, 1995, a grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against the defendant charging him with violations of the Lacey Act; defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment.  The court found that the Lacey Act embodies Congress' valid exercise of commerce power even when applied to a recreational hunter who purchased hunting guide services in violation of state law.

  • Victor Bernal and Eduardo Berges were convicted of various crimes in connection with an attempt to export two endangered primates--an orangutan and a gorilla--from the United States to Mexico in violation of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  While the main issue before the court was a downward departure in sentencing guidelines, the court found the purpose of the Lacey Act is protect those species whose continued existence is presently threatened by gradually drying up international market for endangered species, thus reducing the poaching of those species in their native countries.

  • An importer of 144,774 pounds of cooked, frozen blue king crab was charged with violating the Lacey Act for taking the crab in violation of Russian fishing regulations.  The crab is subject to forfeiture under the Lacey Act on a strict liability basis, but the importer asserted an "innocent owner" defense.  The trial court denied the owner's defense and the Court of Appeals affirmed, reasoning if the crab was illegally taken under Russian law then it is considered contraband for Lacey Act purposes regardless of its status under U.S. law.

  • Defendants were caught illegally over-fishing off the coast of South Africa and selling the fish in the United States, in violation of the Lacey Act. The United States Government could not seek compensation for South Africa under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act because the fish were not property belonging to South Africa. However, the United States Government may be able to seek restitution for the South African Government under the discretionary Victim and Witness Protection Act.  Opinion Vacated and Remanded by: U.S. v. Bengis, 631 F.3d 33 (2nd Cir., 2011).

  • This case involves a conspiracy charge to defraud a corporation in which the United States was a stockholder.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Mitchell referred to this Supreme Court case when it found that the nature of the MMPA does not compel its application to foreign territories.

  • During a search related to a controlled substances violation, undercover agents seized eagle feathers from defendant.  The court held that Congress exercised valid Commerce Clause power in enacting the BGEPA, as the incentive of interstate commerce in eagle parts would threaten eagles to extinction, thus depleting the future commercial potential of activities such as eagle-based tourism and educational research.  For discussion on the Eagle Act and the Commerce Clause, see Detailed Discussion .

  • Defendant sought review of a decision from a United States district court, which during a second trial convicted defendant of armed robbery. Armed with a gun defendant went to the teller's window and handed the teller a cloth bag with a note saying that it was a holdup. Two photographs were admitted into evidence that showed agents in the relative positions of defendant and the savings and loan employees at the time of the robbery. The court found no prejudicial effect in the admission of the photographs especially in light of the positive identification of defendant by the teller in the courtroom.

  • The Defendant was convicted in the District Court of Hennepin county for the unlawfully malice killing of a dog.  The Defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court of Minnesota to determine whether a dog has value and thus would be cover by the Minnesota cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota found that a dog has no value and would not be covered by the statute.

  • This is an order vacating the opinions issued in Wilgus , Saenz , and Hardman .  The Tenth Circuit requested the attorneys in the above cases to brief the issues outlined by the court.  For further discussion regarding religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • The defendant had adopted 109 wild horses through the federal Adopt-a-Horse program, whereby excess wild horses were adopted out to private individuals under the stipulation that the horses would be treated humanely and not used for commercial purposes.  The defendant was charged under the criminal provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and with conversion of government property after he sold a number of the adopted horses to slaughter.  At trial, the defendant argued that he could not be found guilty of conversion because the federal government did not have a property interest in the horses, as the power to regulate wild horses on public lands does not equate to an ownership interest in the horses by the federal government.  The court held that, regardless of whether the WFRHBA intended to create an ownership interest in wild horses, the government has a property interest in wild horses that it has captured, corralled, and loaned out.  

  • Two hunters were convicted of violating the Lacey Act after they hunted on a federal wildlife refuge, killed a deer and transported the carcass out-of-state.  The trial court imposed sentences of probation and fines.  The District Court affirmed the conviction and sentences holding they were reasonable.

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