FOUR OKLAHOMANS ORDERED TO PAY A TOTAL OF $68,000 FOR KILLING ENDANGERED WHOOPING CRANES
Court Also Ordered Forfeiture of Firearms and Nationwide Loss of Hunting Privileges for Five Years
OKLAHOMA CITY – This week, four Oklahoman men were sentenced to pay restitution totaling $68,000 for unlawfully killing four endangered whooping cranes protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, announced U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
On August 22, 2023, JOSEPH M. ROMAN, 43, and JUSTIN M. WINE, 40, of Altus, CHANOD M. CAMPBELL, 32, of Gould, and BRIAN LEE GOLLIHARE JR., 35, of Hollis, were charged by information with taking a migratory bird for which there is no season. According to information presented in court, on or about November 5, 2021, the four defendants were hunting at Tom Steed Reservoir in southwest Oklahoma when they killed four whooping cranes and attempted to hide the birds before leaving the scene.
Whooping cranes are a migratory bird and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), the whooping crane is one of the rarest birds in North America and are highly endangered. An FWS report from May, 2023, estimates there are less than 600 total whooping cranes in the wild.
All four defendants pleaded guilty and, at sentencing hearings this week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Maxfield Green ordered each defendant to pay $17,000 in restitution to the International Crane Foundation and pay a $750 fine. The defendants were also each ordered to forfeit their shotguns and will also lose their hunting privileges in all 50 states for the next five years.
“Each of us bears responsibility to protect endangered wildlife so that the species is preserved for future generations,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Troester. “My office stands with and commends the work done by our federal and state law enforcement partners, and we hope this case serves as a warning for those who would harm endangered species.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement is committed to conducting criminal investigations with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for the protection of endangered species such as the whooping crane,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “The outcomes of this case are the result of vigorous investigative efforts by the Office of Law Enforcement and our ODWC partners to bring wildlife violators to justice.”
“This is a great example of state and federal agencies working closely together throughout the investigation. The outstanding ODWC Game Wardens were tireless in tracking down leads and in their collection of key evidence that led to this outcome,” said Nathan Erdman, Law Enforcement Chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Rest assured that those committing wildlife violations in Oklahoma will be caught thanks to thorough investigations like this along with tips from the public.”
This case is a result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown prosecuted the case.