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A Great Horned Owl at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. Photo by Garry Tucker, USFWS.

Service and Florida Wildlife Commission investigates Migratory Bird Treaty Act violation posted on Facebook

Violation will be handled by Federal court in West Palm Beach

Stervenson Benjamin, 28, of West Palm Beach, Florida, has been charged with a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, for allegedly capturing, possessing, and transporting a great horned owl on March 16, 2015 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) jointly investigated the violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after the suspects posted a video of themselves on Facebook holding an apparently stunned or injured Great Horned Owl while driving a car in West Palm Beach, Florida, at approximately 2:00 a.m. on or about March 16, 2015.

Federal Wildlife Officer William Calvert served the violation notice on March 29, 2015, to Stervenson Benjamin, who was driving the car.  The case will be handled by U.S. Department of Justice Southern District of Florida and the first appearance court date will be set later.

The Great Horned Owl is a protected species and Benjamin’s take, capture, possession, transportation and carrying of the owl was in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 703(a) and 707(a).  That violation is a Class B Misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to six months in jail, up to $15,000 fine, and up to one year of probation or supervised release.  

No jail time is being sought by the Department of Justice.

The Service wants to thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers for their initiation of the joint investigation which resulted in these charges.


Phil Kloer, Public Affairs Specialist, (404) 679-7299

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. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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