The House Natural Resources Commmitee is investigating whether or not the Obama administration has engaged in selective enforcement of the Migratory Birds Treaty and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and to that end the committee has requested documents from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
But they’ve been having a hard time getting the information.
“For more than 10 months, the FWS has delayed fulfilling requests for documents providing insight into the development of its enforcement policies,” reads a press release from the Rep. Kevin Cramer’s office. “On May 16, 2013, the Committee sent an initial document request letter to Director Ashe, seeking copies of its investigation reports and other communications. In December, the FWS provided hundreds of redacted pages without any accompanying justification. As a result, on January 16 Cramer and the Committee voted 26 to 14 to authorize Chairman Doc Hastings to issue a subpoena for the information. To date, the FWS has still not fully complied with the subpoena.”
Democrats on the committee have suggested that the investigation is a distraction, pulling FWS officials from other important investigations. But Rep. Cramer was having none of that, pointing out that the FWS spent months investigating dead ducks in North Dakota, finding just seven, and then attempting to prosecute a group of oil companies for unlawful takings of those ducks.
“The very famous migratory bird case in North Dakota is very familiar to me,” Cramer told FWS Director Dan Ashe. “And we want to talk about diverting agents from important international crime rings, and we talk about responding to a request for information as a ‘gross diversion’ from that very important work of finding international criminals. Your agents scoured western North Dakota to find seven dead ducks, and then brought charges through the Justice Department against three oil companies.”
The investigation and attempted prosecution Rep. Cramer mentions is indeed pretty famous. It was mentioned during one of the presidential debates in 2012. It was also dismissed from federal court, to the embarassment of hyper-partisan US Attorney Tim Purdon (named “Dodo of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal), but what’s scary is that in the video above Ashe stands by the attempted prosecution.
The FWS defines an illegal taking of a protected bird as any death of a bird through the actions of an individual be it intentional or unintentional.
Meaning that if you hit a protected bird while driving along the highway congratuations. You could be prosecuted for a federal crime.