When doing home improvement work, it may entail trimming or cutting down brush, bushes or trees. While you might not give it much thought, the trees may be home to birds protected by federal law. Disturbing the habitat of these birds in any way can lead to federal charges, as two recent cases show.
In Oakland, tree trimmer Ernesto Pulido was charged with a misdemeanor violation of the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act when he trimmed several nest-laden trees for the U.S. Postal Service. The trees had a large colony of egrets and black-crowned night herons, native birds protected by the federal government. Five birds suffered bruises and fractures.1
Pulido faces up to six months in federal prison and a $15,000 fine. However, the penalties are expected to be reduced because he had expressed remorse and pledged to pay for the injured birds’ care.
In another case in Philadelphia, the owners and employees of bridge repair companies Liberty Maintenance and Alpha Painting were charged with conspiracy, witness tampering, making false statements to investigators and taking or destroying a migratory bird egg. Employers allegedly ordered their employees to ignore restrictions on a work site that were meant to protect a falcon nest.2
The loud noises coming from construction equipment scared off the birds, which then abandoned their unhatched eggs. The workers allegedly tried to cover up their violations at the work site and lied to federal investigators.3
The U.S. Federal Migratory Bird Act
Under the Federal Migratory Bird Act, it is illegal to hunt, kill, capture, possess, sell, transport and export birds, feathers, eggs and nests of federally protected native birds. Not all birds are protected under this act, only ones designated for protection by the federal government. Before doing any yard work or construction involving the cutting or trimming of trees, it is important to check for birds and the type of birds to avoid possible federal charges.
What is the Punishment for Violating The Federal Migratory Bird Act? United States Code 16 Chapter 7
Under U.S. Code 16 Chapter 7, violating the protection of migratory birds can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to six months in federal prison and a $15,000 fine. A felony conviction (usually for trying to sell, trade or barter birds) is punishable by up to two years in federal prison. If multiple birds are affected, you can face a charge for every injured bird, leading to far more substantial fines and lengthy prison sentences.
Call the Federal Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one is facing a federal charge of violating the protection of migratory birds, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience in defending persons charged for violating federal laws. Our attorneys will work diligently and fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California federal criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. [Tree trimmer to face federal charges in Oakland birds case, May 21, 2014, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Tree-trimmer-to-face-federal-charges-in-Oakland-5496220.php]↩
2. [Federal charges for bridge workers who disturbed falcon nest, May 23, 2014, http://articles.philly.com/2014-05-23/news/50033069_1_falcon-nest-alpha-painting-girard-point-bridge]↩