Skip to main content
Press Release

Barstow Man Charged with Killing a California Condor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A two-count criminal complaint was filed against Matthew Paul Gumz, 39, of Barstow, charging him with taking a California condor in violation of both the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Gumz made his initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

According to court documents, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received an anonymous tip about the death of a male juvenile California condor. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist located the dead condor, designated as Condor 780, on federal land in Kern County. Condor 780 had a large distinctive green tag on its left wing with “80” printed on it in large white numbers. On September 30, 2016, Gumz was deer hunting in the Bean Canyon area, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Gumz field dressed a deer and hung it in a tree, and left. When he returned to the area, Gumz saw condors and other birds near his deer and allegedly shot and killed Condor 780 with a rifle.

The California condor is protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Condor 780 came from an egg laid at the World Center Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and was fostered in the wild by condors in a monitored nest in Southern California. The nest was managed by the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge as part of the California Condor Recovery Program.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Gumz faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for the Endangered Species Act violation and up to six months in prison and a $15,000 fine for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act violation. Additionally, the court can order restitution and order the forfeiture of the firearm used in the offense. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated August 1, 2017