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United States v. Vankesteren
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
553 F.3d 286 (2009)
After a phone call alerted the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that a protected bird was stuck in a cage in Steve Vankesteren’s (defendant) field, one of the department’s agents went to the field and observed a bird trap with pigeons inside. Without obtaining a warrant, the agent had a motion-activated camera installed on Vankesteren’s field. The camera had a 12-by-12-foot viewing radius and ran only during daylight hours. Within nine days, the video camera captured Vankesteren killing two birds that were caught in traps. The agent went to the surveillance area, found bird carcasses that had wounds matching those that Vankesteren appeared to inflict on camera, and identified the birds as red-tailed hawks, a protected species. Vankesteren admitted to accidentally catching some hawks and disposing of their carcasses. Vankesteren moved to suppress the video footage. The magistrate judge denied the motion to suppress and found Vankesteren guilty of two counts of taking or possessing a migratory bird without a permit. Vankesteren appealed, and the district court found no error. Vankesteren then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gregory, J.)
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