Wildlife protection laws were federalized in 1900, when Congress passed the Lacey Act. Many species of game animals in the United States faced extinction due to illegal hunting or fishing, particularly illegal commercial hunting. Many states had laws and regulations in place to protect their wildlife from overhunting, but the interstate commerce that traded in illegal wildlife was too vast for individual states to regulate. The Lacey Act and related federal wildlife statutes made it a federal offense to violate the wildlife laws of any state, tribe or foreign county, and then trade or move that wildlife across state borders, regardless of whether the wildlife is endangered. Unfortunately, this has lead to the federalization of minor and highly technical state law wildlife violations when illegally taken fish, game, pelts, antlers or feathers are transported home across state lines by sportsmen.
While the Lacey Act served its initial purpose, the rise in international trafficking has led to more national wildlife protection statutes to protect endangered species (e.g. tortoises, striped bass, leopards, ginseng and black coral). Recently, the Lacey Act was expanded to include plant life, particularly timber. When prosecuting a wildlife violation case, the federal government may pursue charges either misdemeanor or felony charges against an individual or an organization, and can levy punishments or remedies including:
While the penalties can be daunting, a skilled defense attorney can help protect against government overreach and keep your liberties intact. The Nebraska lawyers at Berry Law Firm advocate for the rights as an outfitters, hunters, and fishermen, and fight to ensure that their clients are fairly represented in federal wildlife and game prosecutions.
In the United States, 31 states have agreed by Compact to communicate convictions of hunters, fishers, or other wildlife traders for federal wildlife violations. As a result, license suspensions or revocations that happen in one state of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact will be recognized and enforced in each other state adhering to the Compact. The participating states will “report to the appropriate participating state…any conviction recorded against any person whose home state was not the issuing state…[and] allow the home state to recognize and treat convictions as though they occurred in the home state."
Waterfowl hunters are accustomed to defined seasons and bagging limits, but some birds are given special legal protection. Some hunters are particularly interested in the sandhill crane for both trophy and food, with some people referring to it as “the ribeye of the sky.”
The birds were originally protected under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but the population boomed and in 1961 the laws were relaxed and hunting and trapping were allowed. In the Central Flyway stretching North through the US and Canada, only Nebraska does not have a hunting season for the birds.
Under Nebraska Administrative Code Title 163, Chapter 4, it is unlawful to hunt migratory waterfowl without possessing a valid small game hunting permit and associated stamps. Because there are no permits for sandhill cranes, it is de facto illegal to hunt them in Nebraska.
While the sandhill crane is not an endangered species, Nebraska is home to other endangered species that are unlawful to hunt under the Federal Endangered Species Act:
The most common conception of endangered species is game animals and fish. However, legal protections also extend to several non-game species.
If you need representation due to charges from wildlife or game violations, Berry Law Firm can help. Please contact our wildlife attorneys for more information about your rights.