United States v. Boynton
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
63 F.3d 337 (1995)
Stephen Boynton, James Booth, and Bernard Dadds (the hunters) (defendants) were hunting mourning doves. The birds were drawn to the area by wheat and chaff that had been scattered over dry ground. The hunters were cited by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (plaintiff) for hunting in a baited area in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA generally prohibited hunting migratory birds over bait. Exceptions were made for the taking of migratory birds over grain scattered “solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting” or grain that has been “scattered as the result of bona fide agricultural operations or procedures.” The hunters argued their actions were permitted under the exceptions, but the court found that the method of scattering the seeds was inconsistent with normal planting and bona fide agricultural operations. The court’s position was based on expert testimony confirming the planting was neither consistent with erosion-control methods nor done in a way that would result in harvestable grain. The hunters were convicted of hunting over bait in violation of the MBTA, a misdemeanor, and fined $200 each. The hunters appealed, arguing that normal planting and bona fide agricultural operations could only be determined by examining the subjective intent of the person who scattered the seeds.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Murnaghan, J.)
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