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GLIN==> Wisconsin Corporation Pays $30,000 For Violating Wildlife...




--------------- cc:Mail Forwarded ---------------
From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     09/27/99 09:22 AM
To:       fws-news@www.fws.gov AT FWS
Subject:  Wisconsin Corporation Pays $30,000 For Violating Wildlife...


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information:
                                             September 24, 1999
Edward Spoon, 608/221-1206
ext. 15
EA 99-42                                Ed_Spoon@fws.gov

Wisconsin Corporation Pays $30,000  For Violating Wildlife Laws

Weyco Group Inc., of Glendale, Wis., pleaded  guilty today to unlawfully
killing a ring-billed gull, a federally protected species of migratory
bird, and was fined $15,000.  Weyco Group, Inc. entered the plea as part of
a plea agreement in which the corporation admitted violating the Migratory
Bird Treaty Act. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew V. Richmond
prosecuted the case, which resulted in  a $15,000 criminal fine, the
maximum  under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and a $15,000 donation to the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,  to be used for conservation of
colonial waterbirds.  Weyco Group Inc. entered the guilty plea before U.S.
Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence in Milwaukee.

The case began on June 16 when tenants of nearby buildings notified the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that
people atop the Weyco warehouse were killing gulls with
shovels and throwing birds and nests over the side of the
building. Wisconsin DNR Conservation Wardens notified U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Ed Spoon, who began
an investigation. Agent Spoon discovered that Weyco employees
had,  in fact, killed and removed several
hundred young ring-billed and herring gulls from the roof of the Glendale
building.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had issued Weyco Group a depredation
permit to remove gull nests and eggs from their roof.  During the
permit-issuing process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, specifically told Weyco Group
that the permit did not allow the killing of live birds.

"Its important that people understand Weyco Group violated
the conditions of a depredation permit.  The Fish and
Wildlife Service and Department of Agriculture will work
with anyone having problems with migratory birds.  But,
once a permit is issued, it is very important that the
permit be complied with.  A depredation permit is very
specific-- it is not a license to kill," said
Special Agent Spoon.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a federal wildlife law that protects
waterfowl, songbirds, hawks, owls and many other game and non-game bird
species. Enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the act was passed
in 1916 to stop the decline of bird populations which were being decimated
by market hunters seeking meat, as well as feathers for the fashion
industry. The Act regulates sport hunting of migratory
game birds and provides full protection for many
other species of migratory birds.  Congress recently approved raising the
maximum fine for violations of the Act from $5,000 to $15,000.  Today is
the first time the new maximum fine has been levied against a corporation
in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people.  The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of
small wetlands, and other special management areas.  It also operates 66
national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management offices, and 78
ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife
laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and
restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program
that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing
and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

                              -FWS-



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