TYLER, Texas – A 46-year-old Fort Worth man has pleaded guilty to federal wildlife violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.
Jorge Fernando Mercado pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with unlawful possession of migratory birds today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.
According to information presented in court, on Sep. 30, 2017, in Van Zandt County, Texas, Mercado, knowingly possessed, and then sold, a live Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) to another individual for $200.00. The Eastern Screech-Owl is a “migratory bird” which is protected by federal statute and international conventions. Mercado admitted that he knowingly possessed and sold the owl without a valid permit or authorization.
Under federal statutes, Mercado faces up to six months in federal prison at sentencing. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
The owl was recovered and rehabilitated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife and has since been released back into the wild.
This case was investigated by Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.