Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Man Sentenced for Possessing Protected Eastern Screech-Owl

January 31, 2019

Contact(s):

Contact:    Aislinn Maestas, (505) 248-6599, aislinn_maestas@fws.gov



TYLER, Texas – Jorge Fernando Mercado was sentenced to 175 days in federal prison by U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love on January 10, 2019 for unlawfully possessing a protected eastern screech-owl, announced Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Phillip Land of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement of the Southwest Region.           

Mercado pleaded guilty on November 26, 2018 in U.S. Magistrate Love’s court to the unlawful possession of a migratory bird. A federal grand jury sitting in Tyler, Texas indicted Mercado on July 18, 2018.

At his plea hearing, Mercado admitted that on September 30, 2017 in Van Zandt County, he knowingly possessed, and then sold, a live eastern screech-owl (Megascops asio) to another individual for $200. The eastern screech-owl is a migratory bird, which is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Mercado admitted that he knowingly possessed and sold the owl without a valid permit or authorization.

"One of our highest priorities is to investigate individuals who are involved in the unlawful commercial trafficking of our nation's wildlife," said SAC Land. “The successful outcome of this investigation is the result of working jointly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure the protection of our migratory birds.”  

Mercado has no legal status to reside in the United States. He will be deported to Mexico upon completing his sentence.

The owl was recovered and rehabilitated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and has since been released back into the wild. 

This case was investigated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit https://www.fws.gov/southwest/lawenforcement/index.htm and  connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

 


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.