ND man fined $15,000 for killing great horned owls, other birds

A great horned owl draws a crowd
A great horned owl draws a crowd at Lincoln Park in Grand Forks on Sunday as it is released back into the wild after a seven-week rehabilitation at the Raptor Center in St. Paul following injuries sustained when it became tangled in kite string in Lincoln Park at the time. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

FARGO — A Geneseo, N.D., man has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to five years probation and fined $15,000 for setting traps that killed at least two dozen migratory birds, including 10 great horned owls, according to Drew Wrigley, U.S. Attorney for North Dakota .

According to Wrigley:

Jesse James Mertins, 40, set 19 pole traps around an enclosure to protect exotic waterfowl he was raising from predatory birds.

Agents from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service subsequently recovered at least 26 migratory birds from the pole traps, including 10 great horned owls, one sharp-shinned hawk, one Cooper’s hawk, one great blue heron, one hooded merganser, seven common grackles, four American robins and one yellow-headed blackbird.

All of the birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act .


"The facts of this case are particularly egregious given the large number of pole traps, the small area in which those traps were placed, and the substantial number of migratory birds killed, including more than a dozen birds of prey," Wrigley said.

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