July 29, 2010

Four Local Men Plead Guilty in Wildlife Violations Case in U.S. District Court

An investigation that began in Scotland County in March 2009 has resulted in four local men entering guilty pleas on federal charges. The United States Attorneys Office announced on July 22nd that four Scotland County men have pleaded guilty to multiple federal wildlife violations, including illegally shooting a Bald Eagle and illegally trapping and shooting a Great Horned Owl and trapping a Yellow Shafted Flicker.

According to a press release issued by the United States Department of Justice, Eastern Missouri Region office, court documents in the case stated that between March 1, 2009 and April 10, 2009 Douglas Byrn trapped and Logan Byrn shot a Great Horned Owl in Scotland County. During that same time period, Douglas Byrn also trapped a Yellow Shafted Flicker. On February 28, 2009, in Adair County, Logan Byrn assisted Jerad Fuller in shooting and killing a Bald Eagle. James Fuller, the father of Jerad Fuller, also pleaded guilty to intending to influence a witness in the case by picketing at a residence occupied by a witness on April 13, 2009 in Scotland County.

Douglas L. Byrn, 55, Memphis, pleaded guilty to two violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Logan D. Byrn, 19, Downing, pleaded guilty to one violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one count of aiding and abetting the violation of the Bald Eagle Act. Jerad M. Fuller, 19, Memphis, pleaded guilty to one violation of the Bald Eagle Act. James F. Fuller, 49 of Memphis, pleaded guilty to one count of intending to influence a witness in the case by picketing at a residence occupied by a witness.

All defendants appeared before United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry on July 22nd in St. Louis.

Sentencings have been set for October 18, 2010 and October 22, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.

Violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act carries a penalty of up to six months prison and/or fines up to $15,000; aiding and abetting the violation of the Bald Eagle Act carries a penalty up to one year in prison and/or fines up to $100,000; violation of the Bald Eagle Act carries a penalty up to one year in prison and/or fines up to $100,000; and intending to influence a witness carries a penalty up to 1 year in prison and/or fines up to $100,000.

This case was investigated by Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Two eagle carcasses were recovered in Scotland County on March 17, 2009 after county residents reported sighting the downed birds to Missouri Conservation Agent Gary Miller. The ensuing local investigation ultimately led to the federal charges.

While the American Bald Eagle was officially removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in June of 2007, the birds are still protected under law by the federal migratory bird act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

In 1999, a Scotland County man was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $1,000 for killing a Bald Eagle. Judge Karl DeMarce handed down the maximum sentence to the shooter, a 19-year-old, for the charge of illegally taking wildlife, a class A misdemeanor.

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