WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Daniel Ashe questioning the agency’s decision to press charges against a California tree-trimmer who inadvertently violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) while performing a job commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service.
“The Committee is concerned that Mr. [Ernesto] Pulido is being subjected to an unfair and unnecessary prosecution because FWS is responding to public pressure to act but does not want to seek redress from a fellow federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service,” Issa writes.
“During my time as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, many agencies have failed to take action and the Justice Department has declined or failed to prosecute federal employees for offenses including: receiving thousands of dollars in impermissible gifts from lobbyists ; watching pornography on government computers while on the job ; operating private businesses from their offices ; lying on official timecards for years ; and spending outrageous sums of taxpayer dollars at Las Vegas conventions.
“When so many government workers are offered a pass, referring and prioritizing charges against a private citizen for incidental and relatively minor injuries to a non-endangered species – commissioned by a federal agency no less – appears nothing short of bureaucratic bullying,” the letter states.
On May 3rd, while trimming trees at the behest of the Postal Service, Mr. Pulido cut limbs containing Black-Crowned Night Herons, reportedly injuring five birds that were then taken to a nearby bird rescue for treatment. No birds were killed and, according to reports, Mr. Pulido is paying for the care of the injured birds. The FWS has publically stated that U.S. attorneys are expected to file formal charges within a week, which will carry a maximum fine of $15,000 and six months in jail.
The letter requests FWS provide documents and communications about its decision by June 4, 2014.
You can read the letter to Director Ashe here.