Man Sentenced for Violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act
An undercover investigation led by the US Fish and Wildlife service has resulted in the arrest of Wayne Martin, a New Mexico man who violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by killing multiple birds. Martin pled guilty to the crimes in 2017 and was sentenced this week by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to a DOJ release, Martin has admitted to killing robins, hummingbirds, hawks, and other bird species. He attempted to sell these birds to an undercover federal agent, resulting in his arrest.
After pleading guilty, Martin failed to attend his sentencing hearing and remained at-large for 21 months before federal agents were able to arrest him once again.
At least two dozen protected birds were killed by Martin.
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid Federal permit.
Birds qualify for protection if they are mentioned in the Canadian Convention, Mexican Convention, Japanese Convention or Russian Convention outlining protected species. The Migratory Bird Treaty also protects all species native to the US or its territories.
In 2017, enforcement of the act shifted towards individuals and away from companies whose negligence led to the killing of protected species. This month the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife took up legislation that would strengthen the protection of the act to include corporate negligence which harms protected birds.
“This will allow us to stay in compliance with our international treaty organizations. We must have consistent implementation moving forward, and making sure that the Fish and Wildlife Service knows that it has the authority to punish bad actors when they kill birds due to negligence,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif) who introduced the measure.
Martin was sentenced to 37 days in federal prison for his actions. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated this case with assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
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