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United States v. Sandia 188 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir 1999)

This case was vacated by the Tenth Circuit in the Hardman order.  Defendant in this case sold golden eagle skins to undercover agents in New Mexico.  On appeal, defendant contended that the district court failed to consider the facts under a RFRA analysis.  The Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding that defendant never claimed that his sale of eagle parts was for religious purposes and that the sale of eagle parts negates a claim of religious infringement on appeal.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion.

Case
U.S. v. Zak 486 F.Supp.2d 208 (D.Mass., 2007) 2007 WL 1427442 (D.Mass.)

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.”

Case
U.S. v. Vance Crooked Arm 788 F.3d 1065 (9th Cir. 2015) 2015 WL 3542707 (9th Cir. 2015) 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. Case
U.S. v. Smith 29 F.3d 270 (7th Cir. 1994)

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 .

Case
U.S. v. Moon Lake Electric Ass'n, Inc. 45 F.Supp.2d 1070 (D. Colo. 1999)

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.

Case
U.S. v. Mackie 681 F.2d 1121 (D.C. Cir. 1982)

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.

Case
U.S. v. FMC Corp. 572 F.2d 902 (2nd Cir., 1978) 11 ERC 1316, 8 Envtl. L. Rep. 20, 326 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. Case
U.S. v. Corbin Farm Service 444 F. Supp. 510 (D. Cal. 1978)

As related to the BGEPA, the opinion distinguishes the degree of intent under the MBTA from that of the BGEPA.  It also holds that both statutes were designed to apply to activities outside of traditional scope of hunting and poaching (in this case poisoning of birds).  For further discussion on activities such as poisoning and electrocution prohibited under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

Case
U.S. v. Clucas 50 F.Supp. 609 (D.C. Va. 1943)

Defendant and several individuals went on a duck hunt in and were charged with exceeding the limit for migratory birds under Virginia law.  The game wardens testified that the defendant, Clucas, admitted in the presence of the other parties that they had killed more than the 'bag', meaning thereby that they had killed more than ten ducks allowed for each person.  The government held the position that the other individuals were hired for the reason of taking or killing the ducks.  The court held that in view of the fact that January 6, 1943, was not the first day of the season the possession of twenty-six ducks by the two defendants did not constitute a violation of the provisions of the Virginia regulation. The possession being legal, the burden of proof did not shift to the defendants. 

Case
U.S. v. CITGO Petroleum Corp. 893 F.Supp.2d 841 (S,D.Tex.,2014) In 2007, CITGO was convicted of unlawfully taking and aiding and abetting the taking of migratory birds under MBTA § 707(a) after ten dead birds were found in two large open-top oil tanks. CITGO moved the Court to vacate its convictions, arguing that the MTBA criminalizes the unlawful taking or killing of migratory birds by hunting, trapping, poaching, or similar means, but does not criminalize commercial activities in which migratory birds are unintentionally killed as a result of activity completely unrelated to hunting, trapping, or poaching. In response, the Government argued that the MTBA prohibits the taking or killing of a migratory bird at any time, by any means or in any manner. The evidence presented at trial established that a number of individuals saw oil-covered birds, both dead and alive. An employee told senior management and suggested to another member of CITGO's senior management team that CITGO install nets on the tanks to prevent birds from landing in the oil. Based on this evidence, the court held that not only was it reasonably foreseeable that protected migratory birds might become trapped in the layers of oil on top of the tanks, but that CITGO was aware that this was happening for years and did nothing to stop it. Because CITGO's unlawful, open-air oil tanks proximately caused the deaths of migratory birds in violation of the MBTA, CITGO's Motion to Vacate CITGO's Conviction for Violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was denied. Case

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