Safeguarding Protected Species

Mountain Lion.  Courtesy of NPS

Safeguarding Protected Species

United States v. Robroy MacInnes (E.D. Pa.): In December 2014, three defendants were sentenced for their roles in the illegal taking, transporting, and selling of protected rattlesnakes. Robroy MacInnes and Robert Keszey co-owned a well-known reptile dealership, Glades Herp Farm Inc., based in Florida. Keszey formerly hosted the Discovery Channel show “Swamp Brothers.” From 2006 through 2008, they collected protected snakes from the wild in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, purchased protected eastern timber rattlesnakes (which had been unlawfully collected from the wild in violation of New York law), and transported threatened eastern indigo snakes and eastern timber rattlesnakes between Florida and Pennsylvania. The two were charged with Lacey Act violations and conspiracy. In November, 2013, MacInnes and Keszey were tried and found guilty of conspiracy to traffic in protected reptiles. MacInnes also was convicted of trafficking in protected timber rattlesnakes in violation of the Lacey Act. The evidence at trial showed that the snakes were destined for sale at reptile shows in Europe, where a single timber rattlesnake can sell for up to $800. Snakes that were not sold in Europe were sold through the defendants’ business in the United States. The eastern indigos were intended for domestic sale, where a single snake may fetch up to $1,000. In addition to trafficking in illegal animals, the defendants attempted to persuade a witness not to provide the government with information regarding their illegal dealings. On December 5, 2014, MacInnes was sentenced to serve18 months’ incarceration; Keszey was sentenced to serve 12 months’ incarceration. MacInnes will pay a $4,000 fine and Keszey will pay a $2,000 fine. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-florida-men-and-company-charged-philadelphia-rattlesnake-trafficking

United States v. Christopher Loncarich (D. Colo.): On November 20, 2014, Christopher Loncarich was sentenced to serve 27 months in prison for heading a conspiracy that involved illegal hunting and trapping of mountain lions and bobcats. Christopher Loncarich was a big game outfitter and hunting guide who operated mainly in western Colorado, along the border with Utah. He outfitted and guided hunts for mountain lions and bobcats in the Book Cliffs Mountains, which span the Colorado-Utah border. Between 2007 and 2010, Loncarich and his assistant guides trapped the cats in cages prior to hunts and released them when the client was nearby. They resorted to shooting the cats in the paws or legs or placing leghold traps on them to keep the cats from moving. Despite knowing that many of these hunters did not have proper tags or licenses to take the animals in Utah, the defendants helped them bring the cats back to Colorado and provided false seals for the hides. Loncarich sold mountain lion hunts for $3,500-$7,500 and bobcat hunts for $700-$1,500. On August 15, 2014, Loncarich pleaded guilty to a Lacey Act conspiracy charge for illegally capturing and maiming mountain lions and bobcats. Loncarich is banned from hunting or trapping any wildlife for three years following his release from prison. This case was investigated by the FWS Office of Law Enforcement, together with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/colorado-big-game-hunting-outfitter-sentenced-more-two-years-role-illegal-mountain-lion-and

Updated April 15, 2015

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