Cases

  • FMC operated a plant which manufactured various pesticides, requiring large amounts of wastewater which was stored in a pond. The pond attracted waterfowl during migration, some of which died. FMC attempted various measures to keep birds away from the pond. But, the Court held that FMC had engaged in an activity involving the manufacture of a highly toxic chemical and had failed to prevent this chemical from escaping into the pond and killing birds. The Court, therefore, held that this was sufficient to impose strict liability on FMC.
  • Roosevelt Fountain, Sr. ("Fountain") and his daughter, Shirley Fountain Ellison ("Ellison") operated an oyster fishing business in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, called Fountain Seafood, Inc., where their convictions arose from the manner in which they operated the business (i.e., tagging violations, taking of oysters from closed areas, taking of excess limits of oysters, and licensing violations).  The indictment further contended that the appellants worked to accomplish this goal by creating false records relating to their oyster sales.  The court held that it was not error for no instruction on the term "willfully," since the false record provision refers to "knowingly" as the mens rea requirement.  Further, the court held that "materiality" is also not a provision of the Lacey Act's false records provision.

  • The Defendant, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming, was charged with violating the Eagle Act after he illegally shot a bald eagle for an important religious ritual. The Defendant claimed that prosecution was prevented by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Friday claimed that the government failed to protect eagles killed when they strike power lines. The Court of Appeals held that the permitting process did not facially violate the RFRA and any difference in government's treatment of Native Americans taking eagles for religious purposes and power companies whose power lines killed eagles did not indicate that government failed to protect eagles in least restrictive manner. 

  • The court finds that the legislative history and surrounding circumstances of the BGEPA evinces a congressional intent to restrict treaty-based rights to hunt eagles.  The court aligns itself with Judge Lay's dissent in U.S. v. White to hold that the BGEPA abrogated Indian hunting rights related to eagles.  For further discussion on the abrogation of Indian treaty rights under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • In an issue of first impression, this Court considered whether the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) was unconstitutional either on its face or as-applied to defendants. The defendants in this case were an animal rights organization ("SHAC") and six associated individuals. The defendants engaged in direct action ranging from electronic civil disobedience to destroying property at the homes of individuals associated with Huntingdon Life Sciences (a research corporation that performs animal testing for other companies). Defendants argued that the statute has a chilling effect on speech because protestors will refrain from all speech, even protected speech, due to the ambiguity of what the statute proscribes. Thus the Court found that the government provided sufficient evidence to prove that the defendants conspired to violate the AEPA.

  • Defendant first argues that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the government failed to plead and prove two essential jurisdictional elements for a 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(1) violation--namely, that Mr. Gardner was not an Indian and that the crime affected interstate commerce.  The court found the non- Indian status of the defendant is not an essential element of jurisdiction for a 16 U.S.C. § 3372 violation.  It is only necessary to plead and prove an interstate commerce nexus where § 3372(a)(2) is implicated.  The Court reverses because the jury instructions did not sufficiently instruct the jury as to how it should consider uncorroborated accomplice testimony.

  • Gay-Lord was found guilty of engaging in interstate commerce in striped bass (rockfish) in violation of regulations and statutes of the Commonwealth of Virginia after purchasing the fish from undercover FWS agents and later selling it to an interstate distributor.  The Court held that conviction was proper despite undercover agents having transported fish from Virginia to trafficker's place of business in North Carolina.

  • The primary question in this appeal was whether Congress exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause in enacting a criminal prohibition against animal fighting. Defendants were indicted, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, for their roles in organizing, operating, and participating in “gamefowl derbies,” otherwise known as “cockfighting.” Upon the 4th Circuit’s review of the parties' arguments, it held that the animal fighting statute was a legitimate exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. It also held that the statute did not require the government to prove the defendants' knowledge regarding the particular venture's nexus to interstate commerce. Accordingly, the district court’s decision was affirmed.
  • Court held that defendant has standing to raise a facial challenge to the Indian eagle permit process where he declined to apply for a permit based on the intrusiveness of the questions.  Defendant is a member of a highly secretive religious sect of his tribe.  In the RFRA analysis, the court held that the permit application was not the least restrictive means of implementing the government's compelling interest where the permit required intrusive information about religious practices.  For further discussion on Native American religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • Defendant challenged the search of his residence in a drug raid in which his dog was shot.  The court held that the shooting of Gregory's dog was done excusably by an officer who reacted quickly in a potentially dangerous situation to a perceived attack by an animal reasonably believed to be an attack dog. The shooting of the dog did not render the search unreasonable.

  • In a Lacey Act prosecution for conspiracy to engage in conduct prohibited by the Act, the prosecution need not allege that all the defendants involved committed the underlying substantive violation of the Lacey Act to charge the defendants with conspiracy.  Moreover, the alleged overt acts need not be criminal in nature.

  • The court affirmed the decision of the district court which convicted defendant of violations of the Lacey Act (Act) and the Endangered Species Act. The court held that the Act was not unconstitutional, that defendant was not permitted to collaterally challenge an agency regulation on the grounds of new scientific evidence, and that the Secretary of the Interior's finding that the turtle was a valid species was not arbitrary.

  • Defendants appealed sentences arising out of a Missouri-based dog-fighting conspiracy. Each man pleaded guilty to conspiring to engage in animal fighting ventures in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and one Defendant additionally pleaded guilty to engaging in animal fighting ventures in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 2156. When sentencing each defendant, the district court applied an upward departure provision found in the application notes to United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG or Guidelines). Each appellant argued that his relevant conduct was not sufficiently cruel to warrant the upward departure. The 8th Circuit found, however, that the district court had properly considered conduct that was legally relevant to Defendants' sentencing under the Guidelines. The court also found that Defendants' conduct amounted to more than just possessing fighting pit bulls. Defendants bred, raised, trained, sold, and fought them knowing that the dogs would be allowed, if not required, to fight until severely injured or dead. Thus, the ordinary cruelty inherent in dog fighting justifies base offense level, while the extraordinary cruelty of Defendants' crimes separately justified the upward departure. The district court's judgment was affirmed.
  • This opinion vacates and remands U.S. v. Hale, 2004 WL 2367994.

  • Defendant shipped caviar made from the roe of Columbia River sturgeon, which he paid for in cash and fictitiously recorded the caviar as imported.  The Company and Hansen-Sturm were indicted for the violations of the Lacey Act and for conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.  The court held that defendants could be convicted for the lesser included offense of conspiracy to perform a negligent act, even though it was based on a standard of negligence versus intentional conduct.  The conspirators in the exercise of due care should have known that the protected prey was taken and possessed in violation of state law.   

  • The Hardman and Wilgus cases are remanded for factfinding where the record was limited as to whether the government employed the least restrictive means to support its compelling interests of protecting eagles and Native American culture.  On the Saenz motion for return of eagle feathers to a non-federally recognized Indian religious practitioner, the court holds that the government failed to support its assertions that opening the permit system to all adherents of Indian religions would compromise the eagle population or destroy federal trust obligations to Native American tribes/culture.  For discussion of the BGEPA and religious challenges, see Detailed Discussion .

  • Appellant challenged the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, which convicted him of taking a marine mammal in violation of the MMPA.  The court reversed appellant's conviction for taking a marine mammal under the MMPA.  It held that the MMPA and the regulations implementing the act did not make it a crime to take reasonable steps to deter porpoises from eating fish or bait off a fisherman's line. 

  • Defendant finds a decaying eagle carcass on a wildlife preserve.  He then removes the legs and talons of the eagle to bring to a Boy Scout function.  The court reverses his conviction (and $1.00 fine) finding that he did not possess the requisite intent.  The court determines that a conviction under the BGEPA demands a specific intent.  For further discussion on intent under the BGEPA see  Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Following his conviction for a violation of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3371, et seq., Defendant Heuer moved for a new trial.  Where defendant, who obtained guiding and license for hunting elk, engaged in conduct that involved purchase of elk, it was not necessary for government to prove such services occurred in interstate commerce for purposes of Lacey Act conviction.

  • Defendants shot and sold bald eagles to undercover officers posing as big game hunters in Montana.  On appeal, the court denied their claims against the permit system, finding that they lacked standing to challenge the permit system where they failed to apply for permits.  With regard to a facial challenge to the statute, the court held that the BGEPA passed the RFRA test, where the government asserted a compelling interest that was effectuated in the least restrictive means.  For further discussion on commerce in eagle parts, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • Defendants were convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota of possession of an illegal substance with intent to distribute, and they appealed. This case discussed searches and seizures and the Fourth Amendment.

  • Court considered defendant's claim based on newly enacted RFRA.  Court finds defendant's asserted need to kill 12 eagles a year would decimate eagle population in Oregon.  While not perfect, court finds the eagle permit system the least restrictive means to achieve the compelling need of protecting eagles.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • A jury convicted William Kapp for multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act connected with the killing of, and trafficking in, endangered tigers and leopards and their meat, hides, and other parts. On appeal, Kapp claims he is entitled to a new trial because the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the jury's verdict and the district court erroneously admitted certain evidence. Kapp also argues that the manner in which he was sentenced violated the Sixth Amendment. The court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict on all counts, and the district court did not err in its evidentiary ruling.  His conviction was, therefore, affirmed, but a limited remand was ordered to determine whether Kapp should be resentenced .

  • The Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) brought an administrative action against Defendants for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act in connection with Defendants' exotic animal exhibition activities. A judgment was entered for a civil penalty of $57,750 against each Defendant in the administrative action. Defendants have refused to pay, claiming that their due process rights were violated in the underlying administrative proceeding; the judgment, they argued, was therefore void and unenforceable. The United States filed this matter against Defendants seeking to enforce that judgment. Before this Court were the cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff’s motion was granted because the Court could not overlook Defendant's absence of any effort to follow up with the Hearing Clerk, considering the many avenues of communication available. There were also no disputed issues of material fact concerning service of the Administrative Law Judge's Decision and Order, and provision of notice of Defendants' appeal rights. Moreover, this Court lacked jurisdiction to reconsider or otherwise vacate the Agency's final order. 7 U.S.C. § 2149(b) also permitted the institution of a civil action by the Attorney General to collect the penalty imposed and no other facts were presented disputing the validity of the administrative judgment imposing the civil penalty.
  • Defendant sells a headdress containing golden eagle feathers obtained before 1962 to an undercover officer.  Court finds this case directly controlled by Andrus v. Allard .  Court reiterates prohibition on any eagle commerce.  For further discussion on the restriction of commerce in eagle parts under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Defendants appealed their conviction of violating, and conspiring to violate, the animal fighting prohibition of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Court of Appeals granted a new trial, but held, in part, that the AWA is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, and that the provision of different elements of the crime in jurisdictions permitting animal fighting does not violate equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. 
  • Fishermen who took part in importing salmon that they knew or should have known had been taken in violation of Taiwanese regulation, could be subjected to criminal penalties for violation of the Lacey Act, despite the fact not all fishermen who were involved actually violated the Taiwanese regulation.  The fishermen argue that the term "any foreign law" encompasses only foreign statutes, not foreign regulations; however, the court previously ruled that a Taiwanese regulation prohibiting the export of salmon without a permit constituted a "foreign law" under section 3372(a)(2)(A) and thereby supported an Act violation.

  • A jury convicted defendant of one count of violating the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C.S. §§ 3371-3378. The jury found that defendant had violated Oklahoma law by capturing wild elk, holding them captive, and organizing at least one commercial elk hunt, without a license for those activities. The court affirmed. Violation of a state hunting law was an adequate basis for a Lacey Act prosecution. There was sufficient evidence to prove that the Oklahoma statute regarding commercial hunting licenses applied to defendant, and that defendant had knowledge of the statute's requirements.

  • Defendant was convicted of a number of offenses related to his role in a wildlife smuggling operation. If trial did not begin within the requisite time period and defendant moved for dismissal prior to trial, the court had to dismiss the indictment, either with or without prejudice. The court held that the circumstances in the case, where it was clear that the delay in the trial caused the delay in the hearing, rather than the other way around, and where defendant repeatedly asked the court to set the case for trial and was otherwise ready to proceed to trial, plaintiff United States' pending pretrial motion could not serve as a basis for exclusion for a 117 day period. Because the delay violated the Speedy Trial Act, defendant's convictions had to be reversed, his sentences vacated, and his indictments dismissed.

  • Laws governing intrastate activities will be upheld if they substantially affect interstate commerce.  Under the Eagle Act, the power to regulate eagles has been summarily upheld as a valid exercise of commerce power, as it protects the eagle as a species by preventing the creation of a legal commercial market for the animal.  For further discussion of the Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion.

  • Defendant, a non-Native American practitioner of Native American religion, challenged his conviction as a religious exercise violation where there was no evidence that defendant was trafficking in eagle parts.  Employing a RFRA analysis, the court found that while the limitation under the BGEPA to members of federally-recognized Indian tribes did substantially burden defendant's exercise of religion, the government asserted a compelling interest in protecting a rare species and maintaining Indian culture that was administered through the least restrictive means (e.g., the permit process).  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by non-Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • Defendants challenge their eagle convictions under the MBTA, alleging that they should have been charged under the more specific BGEPA.  Court holds the government may elect to proceed under either statute; nothing in the language or legislative history proscribes prosecution under the more general MBTA.  For further discussion on the intersection of the MBTA and the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Court held the 1962 version of the BGEPA mandates a jury trial where defendant requests one, despite the fact it constitutes a "petty offense."  For further discussion of criminal prosecutions under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Defendants Goodfriend and Benney, commercial fishermen licensed pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC"), are charged with catching and failing to return substantial quantities of eel and walleye from Lake Ontario and New York waters in violation of  New York law that prohibits commerce in these fish because of health and conservation concerns.  Aware of the ban prohibiting the sale of eel and walleye taken from these waters, Goodfriend and Benney subsequently sold the eel and walleye to a host of fish wholesalers and retailers, located within and outside New York.  Defendant truck driver's alleged filing of false Canadian customs forms relating to eel and walleye he was transporting from the U.S. to his Canadian employer were violations of the Lacey Act, regardless of whether these acts violated Canadian law.

  • Jesus Ismael Miranda with his company, J.M. Seafood, Inc., and Mario Gonzalez with his company, Mario Seafood Company, were convicted of conspiring in Florida to sell undersized spiny lobster tails, also known as "shorts."  The case was ultimately dismissed without prejudice because of a violation of the Speedy Trial Act.  The court did find sufficient evidence that defendant and his company conspired to sell undersized spiny lobster tails where an undercover agent found sufficient connections in the form of conversations and business dealing between defendant and co-defendant Gonzales.

  • Defendant, a zoologist working for the Department of Interior, was charged in nine count indictment taking and transporting animals in violation of foreign law under the Lacey Act among other violations.  Defendant filed motion to dismiss and government filed motion to determine foreign law.  The government alleged in Count 8 that in September of 1987, Mitchell transported the hides and horns of a Punjab urial (wild sheep) and a Chinkara gazelle out of Pakistan and into the United States knowing that the animals had been taken, possessed or transported in violation of Pakistani law; the Pakistani Imports and Exports (Control) Act of 1950 and the Punjab Wildlife Act of 1974.  The court rejected defendant's reading of the imports and exports law and found it unnecessary to determine the constitutionality of the Punjab Wildlife Act as the Lacey Act impinges on whether defendant violated the portions of the law prohibiting possession of the animals without a permit. 

  • Defendants were indicted for conspiracy to smuggle snakes and other reptiles into the United States in violation of the Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 43. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss counts based on alleged violations of the laws of Fiji and of Papua New Guinea, finding that foreign laws and regulations referred to in the statute were designed and intended for the protection of wildlife in those countries. On appeal, the trial court's order dismissing an indictment against defendants for smuggling wildlife was affirmed as to Fiji, where the regulation relied on was a revenue ordinance. The court reversed as to Papua New Guinea where the law was intended to protect wildlife in the country of origin.

  • Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania of knowingly importing Fijian reptiles contrary to the Tariff Act and of conspiring to commit such offense. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain finding of knowing importation and of receiving and concealing illegally imported reptiles.
  • The court affirmed a judgment of sentence entered following defendant's conditional plea of guilty to smuggling and to violating the Lacey Act. The court held that the district court properly denied defendant's Speedy Trial Act motion where defendant incorrectly computed the number of excludable days. Therefore, the court concluded that more than 120 non-excludable days did not elapse between the indictment and the trial.

  • Defendant on appeal contends that its conduct of electrocuting migratory birds does not fall within the ambit of either the MBTA or the BGEPA because each statute is directed at the more traditional "physical" takings of migratory birds through hunting and poaching.  The court disagrees, finding the plain language of the statute and legislative history demonstrate an intent to include electrocutions.  The court further delineates the differences in intent under each statute, finding that while the MBTA is a strict liability crime, the BGEPA is not.  For further discussion on the intersection of the MBTA and the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Defense counsel not deemed ineffective for failing to advise defendant that a conviction under the BGEPA could result in loss of grazing rights.

  • Despite delays in receiving eagle parts through the federal permit process, the court rules the BGEPA does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  There is nothing so peculiar about defendant's situation to allow a one-man exception.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • Claimant appeals the order granting summary judgment to the government in a order of forfeiture under the Lacey Act for the hide and parts of a sheep killed in Pakistan and exported to the U.S.  Claimant argues that because there is no national Pakistani law enacted for the protection of wildlife, no Pakistani law interferes with his right to remove the respondent sheep from Pakistan based upon the provincial permit.  The court disagreed, noting the Pakistan Constitution honors provincial law to the extent that it does not conflict with national law and Pakistani law prohibits the export of "wild animal skins and garments made from such skins, products or derivatives of such skins."  The Court held that the Government established probable cause for the forfeiture, and Claimant did not demonstrate that any genuine issue of material fact exists which would preclude the award of summary judgment. 

  • 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 .

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