Skip to main content
Press Release

Wisconsin Falconer Guilty of Lacey Act Violation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that James Kitzman, 69, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Madison to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act for his role in illegally bartering a northern goshawk.  This charge carries maximum penalties of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

During the plea hearing, Kitzman admitted that in late 2016 through August 2017, he and Edward Taylor (a Michigan falconer) arranged to barter a northern goshawk taken from the wild in Vilas County Wisconsin in exchange for a captive-bred Finnish goshawk.  It was part of the conspiracy that they covered up the receipt and transport of the northern goshawk from Wisconsin to Michigan, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Lacey Act.  It is illegal to sell or barter northern goshawks because they are migratory birds and protected by the MBTA.         

Specifically, on May 26, 2017, Kitzman took from the wild a female northern goshawk from a nest located on state land in Vilas County.  Kitzman traded the northern goshawk for a Finnish goshawk from Taylor. Both Taylor and Kitzman filled out false reports with the Michigan DNR and Wisconsin DNR to cover up their actions.  Kitzman told his associates to “keep it hush-hush and not tell anybody” that he was giving the female northern goshawk to Taylor.  Kitzman also told Taylor to use a cover story if ever asked by authorities about how the northern goshawk was taken and transferred.

As part of the plea agreement, Kitzman has agreed to pay a fine of $15,000 to the Lacey Act Reward Fund and forfeit the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck he used to transport the northern goshawk taken from the wild on May 26, 2017.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen L Crocker scheduled Kitzman’s sentencing for March 2, 2020, at 11:00 a.m.  Taylor pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge on December 11, 2019.  Taylor’s sentencing is scheduled for February 25, 2020, at 3:00 p.m.

The charges against Kitzman and Taylor were the result of an investigation conducted by law enforcement agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law enforcement, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  The prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Graber.

Updated January 6, 2020