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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Service Apologizes for Citation

We’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about a recent incident where the Service inadvertently issued a citation in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  For more information about what happened, head to our Northeast Region website

We apologize to the Capo family for the actions of our law enforcement agents. We appreciate the family's efforts to do the right thing for the woodpecker and commend them for releasing the bird once contacted by our law enforcement agents. We recognize that caring individuals like the Capos want to help injured and abandoned wildlife.

The citation should never have been issued, and the Service is in the process of correcting the error.  The Capo family should disregard the citation.  Our Director Dan Ashe is attempting to reach the family to personally offer an apology on behalf of the agency.

Once again, we apologize to the Capo family. Please know that we are correcting the error and the Capo Family should disregard the citation.


Little girl saves a bird from her cat, and you send her a fine for $535.

The federal government is trying to cut costs, so I am going to suggest they start with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

I don't like the way you're abusing our tax dollars!
# Posted By Manny | 8/2/11 7:07 PM

Wise move. Perhaps your agent should work for the TSA instead.
# Posted By David | 8/2/11 7:23 PM

So the lady who knew the ticket had been issued erroneously went ahead and served the summons even though she knew it was an "error?" Shyeah--riiiiiight. This is just CYA time from the government again. It gets public and then it's time to try to wiggle your way out. If this hadn't been in the paper, this would have probably gone through without a hitch and this lady would have had to pay $535.
# Posted By John Williams | 8/2/11 7:54 PM

Lousy government bureaucrats, way too self important, once again pushing regulations without reason, to justify their parasitic jobs. They are paid by taxpayers, but try their hardest to make a taxpayer's life miserable, to make themselves look necessary. Big government in action.
# Posted By | 8/2/11 7:57 PM

It is a shame that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services destroyed the dream of a young, aspiring American girl. Declaring that the citation should never had been sent demonstrates the flawed process of the Servicec to control the issue of the regretful citation. Failure to control the process demonstrates Director Ashe's inability to oversee process as simple as defining an inquiry and a true violation. Director Ashe's mismanagement of this event should be reversed by Director Ashe paying for a scholarship for young Miss Capo to realize her dream of becoming a veternarian. It is a dissappointment to not only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services that this incident ever occurred, but a deeper embarrassment if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fails to demonstrate its remorse for issuing the citation without some compensation to Miss Capo.
# Posted By Nate | 8/2/11 8:19 PM

No harm no foul (no pun intented). Good job!. If more U.S. organizations would a.) admit unintented mistakes and b.) have a prompt way to make good on the mistake we would all benefit! POINTS FOR YOU!
# Posted By Richard Fulwider | 8/2/11 8:30 PM

Someone is lying.. it was not inadvertent, but once there was an uproar, then came CYA ..

Bureaucrats just have no common sense
# Posted By paul | 8/2/11 9:00 PM

Funny. The goverment does the right thing and nobody writes a comment. If ghe government screws up, the comments just pile up.
# Posted By | 8/2/11 9:10 PM

This is exactly why we need to reduce the size and scope of the federal government...Mr. Jefferrson, Adams, et al just rolled over in their collective graves
# Posted By ecoman | 8/2/11 9:14 PM

this is just another example of a department harssing a citizen trying to do something good and decent if it was a mistake why did the same agent show up at the door with the ticket this is why nobody wants to get invoveled and help any more
# Posted By bob | 8/2/11 9:22 PM

It's nice to see at least one of our American agencies doing the right thing. Thank you U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
# Posted By Citi-zen | 8/2/11 9:27 PM

The real issue is that the WIldlife agent should not have even gone as far as taking the woman's name in the first place. Common sense would tell one that the child had saved the bird's life and the family had nothing but the bird's well being in mind when they rescued it. Once it was pointed out that there had been a possible violation and it was agreed to release the bird, there should have been nothing else done, except possibly a visit to the home to make sure it had truly been released. All this does is incite ill-will toward wildlife agents in general.
# Posted By KWHodges56 | 8/2/11 10:09 PM

Just one more example of stupid govt actions. Didn't the agent who served the citation question it's validity?
# Posted By | 8/2/11 10:12 PM

Fish and Game people, go bust some real poachers, instead of harrassing innocent people!
# Posted By Robert | 8/2/11 10:12 PM

Frankly, this is a horrible mess. When I, as an average citizen, read about an incident like this - any good the Fish and Wildlife service might actually do - is negated. What makes me really angry is the utter lack of common-sense in this situation. Apologies are fine, but this should never have happened in the first place. So how are you, as a department, going to put a stop to harassing the average American citizen?
# Posted By Joel | 8/2/11 10:24 PM

Another stupid Gov't agency. I agree, this would be a good place for budget cuts since they are obviously unable to use their heads. And NO Citi-zen, they are NOT doing their job!
# Posted By Mrs. Hector | 8/2/11 10:51 PM

Your Department should be disbanded. You provided the proof.
# Posted By | 8/2/11 10:56 PM

Government losers
# Posted By | 8/2/11 11:21 PM

I will be writing to Congress to demand that your budget be cut by at least 50%.
# Posted By Myself | 8/2/11 11:27 PM

WE NEED TO SHRINK THE SIZE OF OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT....... TOO MANY IDIOTS GETTING PAID TO MAKE BAD DECISIONS.
# Posted By | 8/3/11 1:01 AM

Good job on retracting the fine, but you should go further and tell the public that the FWS agent in the retail store is going to be reprimanded for abusing her authority.The goal of the FWS is to protect our native species. This mother and her daughter obviousy had no malicious or selfish intent, so its ridiculous that they were treated as if they posed a serious threat to the woodpecker population.Your employees should understand their role as public servants, and go out of their way to SERVE the public (through education and friendly communication) before resorting to heavyhanded punishment or state troopers knocking on someones door.It's not enough to say, after all this attention, that it was a "mistake". Tell us that it's not your policy to punish children for being kind to animals, and that if this situation were repeated the FWS employee would act differently. If you don't, the public is just going to chalk up the FWS as another out-of-touch agency not worth trusting.
# Posted By Jon | 8/3/11 1:03 AM

Why dont you guys read the story before you comment. It's a clerical error, nothing more. Why it's even in the news is beyond me. Not even newsworthy. No conspiracy people, just a simple f-up. Relax!
# Posted By | 8/3/11 1:06 AM

A perfect place to begin cutting wasteful government spending. Eliminate this agency (follwed by the Dept. of Education, Dept. of Energy and other useless federal agencies that contribute nothing to the benefit of our country, but consume enormous taxpayer recources)
# Posted By wolfman | 8/3/11 4:13 AM

Thank you for apologizing; it is refreshing that a government agency will accept responsibility and express regret for a mistake. I hope the Capo family (and everyone else) will accept your apology gracefully and move on. This is a win for civility.
# Posted By | 8/3/11 7:18 AM

Are You and the EPA in a contest to see who can spend the most tax dollars with the most agregious results?
# Posted By Scott | 8/3/11 7:57 AM

I think we've found a state govt. department that can afford some budget cuts!
# Posted By | 8/3/11 8:34 AM

I'd like to believe that this really was just an error, but if that's true, why did the same agent show up at the woman's door with a state trooper? Something doesn't add up here! However, I'm glad the citation was canceled. That was the right thing to do.
# Posted By Tara | 8/3/11 9:01 AM

From the official statement: "agent determined that no further action was warranted"

From the official account of events:"But roughly two weeks later, that same woman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed up at Capo's front door."

If the agent determined no action was warrented and the citation was cancelled. Why then did the agent not say anything when the citation, she knew was invalid was being served?
# Posted By Marie | 8/3/11 9:23 AM

Fish and Wildlife have more sense
# Posted By | 8/3/11 9:32 AM

This is a prime example of the beurocatic bull that goes on with environmental agencies. They waste the most money in name of saving the environment. The employee should never have even taken the time to write the first citation. These agencies have lost track of the bottom line and reality.
# Posted By Too far | 8/3/11 9:53 AM

In summary...

Let the cat eat the baby bird, next time.
# Posted By | 8/3/11 10:23 AM

This is ridiculous and not the first time I've heard of the Fish and Wildlife dept. harassing an honest person. Time to cut your budget and staff. Its obvious you have too many employees with nothing constructive to do.
# Posted By Mary (LA) | 8/3/11 10:23 AM

Hey, mistakes happen. At least the mea culpa has been issued. Try to find other gov agencies admitting to their mistakes. Good on the FWS for owning up to a bad move, and may this inform their future decisions and philosophies. We are not here to be abused by government.
# Posted By | 8/3/11 11:23 AM

It was right and proper for the agent to take the Cappo's name and information and file a report on the incident.

What if the Cappo family instead of being the sincere and caring people they appear had instead been involved in the business of selling endangered animals? Then the agent's report might have triggered an investigation, or arrest.

A sincere, caring family inconvenienced by a clerical error from a sincere, caring agent. I don't know what the fuss is all about.
# Posted By Ben | 8/3/11 11:41 AM

Clearly this is a mistake. The citation should have been presented to the family cat. He's the real culprit in this situation.
# Posted By Norm | 8/3/11 12:49 PM

Seems like the agent went to a lot of trouble to find a state trooper to go with her and then track these people down. Bad decision!
# Posted By Chuck | 8/3/11 3:11 PM

What an impressive use of tax dollars. What other tyranny is this agency involved in that didn't make the news?
# Posted By Mark | 8/3/11 5:52 PM

If it was not for Fish and Wildlife agents, we would have little or no wildlife in this country. True this particular agent appears to be a little green, but the majority of agents do a great job. In fact, it is illegal to kill, harm, or disturb most all birds. Pick on TSA, they deserve it.
# Posted By Ron | 8/3/11 6:27 PM

Cut government spending , starting with this agency. I keep hearing stories from across the country about good people being punished for the love of an obscure frog, fish or some such thing. And one other thing... I bet if we started looking at trees as a crop, we would find a way to cut down on forest fires.
# Posted By | 8/3/11 7:04 PM

That's what happens when you vote democrat
# Posted By pimp | 8/4/11 7:53 PM

Thank you fish and wildlife for doing the right thing. Other like-minded agencies should take notice. People need to interact with our wildlife and help when called for, without worrying; helping wildlife is real life. Policy makers should make note of this and rewrite the laws to account for this, so that there is no more confusion for agents.
# Posted By | 8/5/11 8:28 AM

In short, all of this could have been avoided if the family simply moved the cat indoors for the day instead of capturing (and moving) the baby bird. Yet this point seems to be missed completely by the media.
# Posted By Kate | 8/8/11 9:45 AM

"We apologize to the Capo family for the actions of our law enforcement agents."

Should read, "Agent!"
# Posted By J | 8/10/11 1:49 PM

Hey the US Fish and Wildlife Service makes a mistake and even apologizes for it and you guys Rip them apart. Lets talk about activist that walk into public grounds and throw red paint on a tree stand and cause environmental damage to a tree. Smart move. Lets damage the grounds where animals live. The US Fish and Wildlife protects endangered species and funds are raised to produce and regenerate land and wildlife. Not all sportsmen are destructive. So lets get that straight right now Beside that if everyone was allowed to handle wildlife there would be even more problems. I'm with the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service on this one.
# Posted By Dean Romano | 8/14/11 10:28 PM

The ticket was warranted. It sounds like the lady was either married to a laywer or was well connected. I see these cases all the time and never once ever seen USFW issue an apology. She must have been related to Obama.
# Posted By Gidge | 8/16/11 7:07 AM

I know FWS regulations and it's obvious this agent is clueless. The agency was right in apologizing but was not truthfull when indicating it was a clerical error. All federal agencies have a review process before a person is charged. The FWS should have reprimanded this agent and reported it to the public. There are bad apples in every barrel so don't hold all FWS agents to the same standard as this one bad apple.
# Posted By | 9/15/11 11:25 PM

You guys really need to calm down and actually read the link above. The agent noticed someone was breaking the law, although completely unintentionally, and informed them of what was happening. The agent filed a report, as she should have. The agent then went to the house with an officer, as she should, to make sure that the bird had been released. You see, FWS agent can't legally search your home, so in the case that they really did still have the bird there for some other reason, she needed the State patrol officer there. After they saw the bird had been released she canceled the request. Everything happened exactly as it is supposed to. Now to the important bit. If you guys actually read the link, it stated that the request was processed through an automated (aka computer)system that for one reason or another didn't cancel the request. Its a computer error.
# Posted By Trent | 5/31/13 3:24 PM
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