Jefferson County Man Sentenced for Killing Whooping Cranes

BEAUMONT, October 25, 2016 – A 19-year-old Beaumont, Texas man has been sentenced for federal wildlife violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.

Trey Joseph Frederick pleaded guilty on May 23, 2016 to a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and was sentenced to five years of federal probation today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn. As part of his probation, Frederick is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, ammunition or any other dangerous weapon. He is also prohibited from hunting or fishing anywhere in the United States.

According to information presented in court, on Jan. 11, 2016, a Texas Game Warden received two calls reporting two whooping cranes had been shot on Blair Road in Jefferson County. Further investigation revealed the defendant had been seen in the area with a hunting rifle and had claimed to be hunting geese. Federal agents contacted Frederick at his home on LaBelle Road where he admitted to killing the cranes. Whooping cranes are migratory birds and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act making it unlawful to capture, kill, or attempt to capture or kill in the United States.

Acting U.S. Attorney Featherston quoted President Theodore Roosevelt saying, “’The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired value.’” Featherston added, “Protecting our environment and wildlife is vital to making sure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the true beauty and excitement of nature.”

“The loss of these cranes is not simply a loss for the species. It is a loss for the community, for taxpayers and for future generations deprived of an opportunity to see these magnificent birds thriving in the wild," said Southwest Region Special Agent in Charge Nicholas E. Chavez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Moreover, the killing of these two whooping cranes is not an isolated incident. Over the past five years, more than 20 whooping cranes have been shot and killed in the U.S. By bringing criminals who perpetrate crimes against wildlife to justice, we hope to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring.”

“Justice was served here in no small part due to the strong partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services special agents, whose thorough and collaborative investigation of the heinous crime illustrates their commitment to protecting our shared natural resources, particularly endangered species like the whooping cranes,” said Colonel Craig Hunter, TPWD Director of Law Enforcement. “The fact that this act of senseless cruelty was universally condemned by the local community, who along with landowners played a vital role in this case being solved quickly, sends a strong message to future game law criminals; your actions will not be tolerated, nor will they go unpunished. We also appreciate the assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney Joe Batte for making this case a priority.”

Frederick has been ordered to pay restitution to the International Crane Foundation in the amount of $12,907.50 and restitution to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation in the amount of $12,907.50 for a total restitution judgment of $25,815.00. Frederick must also perform 200 hours of community service.

This case was investigated by special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Office of Law Enforcement and Game Wardens with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.

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