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Titlesort descending Citation Alternate Citation Summary Type
U.S. v. Carpenter 933 F.2d 748 (9th Cir. 1991)

Defendant owned a goldfish farm and hired lethal "birdmen" to kill various birds that interfered with his operation, including herons and egrets, by means of shooting, trapping, and poisoning.  In reversing defendant's conviction under the Lacey Act, the Court disagreed with the government's position that the act of taking of the birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treat Act also implicated the Lacey Act.  The court held that the Lacey Act requires something beyond the first taking; indeed a person must do something to wildlife that has already been "taken or possessed" in violation of law.

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U.S. v. Chevron USA, Inc. 2009 WL 3645170 (Only the Westlaw citation is currently available.) After 35 dead Brown Pelicans were discovered in the space between the inner wall of the caisson and the outer wall of a wellhead, Chevron was charged with a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But, the Court held that the MBTA was clearly not intended to apply to commercial ventures where, occasionally, protected species might be incidentally killed as a result of totally legal and permissible activities. Therefore, at the plea hearing the Court refused to accept the plea of guilty from Chevron. 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
U.S. v. CITGO Petroleum Corp. 801 F.3d 477 (5th Cir. 2015) 2015 WL 5201185 (5th Cir., 2015) CITGO was convicted of multiple violations of the Clean Air Act and its regulations, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (“MBTA”). CITGO urged the 5th Circuit to reverse the Clean Air Act convictions because the district court erroneously instructed the jury about the scope of a regulation concerning “oil-water separators.” CITGO also contended that the MBTA convictions were infirm because the district court misinterpreted the statute as covering unintentional bird kills. The 5th Circuit agreed with both contentions, holding that CITGO's equalization tanks and air floatation device were not oil-water separators under the Clean Air Act's regulations and that “taking” migratory birds involved only “conduct intentionally directed at birds, such as hunting and trapping, not commercial activity that unintentionally and indirectly caused migratory bird deaths. The district court’s decision was reversed and remanded with instructions. 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. 

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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.

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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. 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.

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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.

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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 .

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