US v. St. Onge, No. CR 87-32-M-CCL.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Montana)
Writing for the CourtEdward Cummings, Missoula, for defendant
Citation676 F. Supp. 1044
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Calvin Paul ST. ONGE, Defendant.
Decision Date11 January 1988
Docket NumberNo. CR 87-32-M-CCL.

676 F. Supp. 1044

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Calvin Paul ST. ONGE, Defendant.

No. CR 87-32-M-CCL.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division.

January 11, 1988.


Robert L. Zimmerman, Asst. U.S. Atty., Billings, for plaintiff.

Edward Cummings, Missoula, for defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LOVELL, District Judge.

Before the court is the motion in limine of the United States, by which the government seeks to exclude certain evidence from the trial of this matter. The defendant evidently intends to present evidence that he believed he was shooting an elk at the time he allegedly shot the bear in question. The United States moves to prohibit such evidence on the ground that it does not constitute a defense to the crime charged.

Title 16, United States Code, Section 1538(a)(1)(G), provides that it is unlawful for any person to "violate any regulation pertaining to ... any threatened species of fish or wildlife ... promulgated by the

Secretary of Interior pursuant to authority provided by this Act." Criminal liability may be imposed against "any person who knowingly violates any ... regulation" issued under the Act. 16 U.S.C. § 1540(b)(1). Under regulations promulgated by the Secretary pursuant to § 1538, it is unlawful for any person to "take any grizzly bear in the 48 coterminous states of the United States." 50 C.F.R. § 17.40(b)(1)(i)

As provided in the criminal penalty section, "knowingly" clearly is an element of the offense. The issue in this case is whether the government must prove that defendant knew he was shooting a grizzly bear at the time he pulled the trigger, or whether the government need only prove that he knowingly shot an animal which turned out to be a grizzly bear.

The court has found only one case that is closely on point. In United States v. Billie, 667 F.Supp. 1485 (S.D.Fla.1987), the defendant was charged with taking a Florida panther, an endangered species. He argued that the government was required to prove that he knew the animal he shot was a Florida panther, as opposed to a nonendangered species of panther. The court rejected this argument and ruled that the government "need prove only that the defendant acted with general intent when he shot the animal in question." Id. at 1493. The court's rationale was that the Endangered Species Act is a regulatory statute, enacted to conserve and protect endangered species, and that its purposes would be eviscerated if the...

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11 practice notes
  • Loggerhead Turtle v. County Council of Volusia County, Fla., No. 97-2083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 3, 1998
    ...lacks the Service's permission to take sea turtles through artificial beachfront lighting. See generally United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D.Mont.1988) ("[T]he court intends to instruct the jury that the government must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in orde......
  • WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No. CV–13–00392–TUC–DCB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • June 19, 2017
    ...shooting a Mexican gray wolf." (Order (Doc. 30) at 17 (citing McKittrick, 142 F.3d at 1177 ) (relying on United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D. Mont. 1988) (critical issue is whether act was done knowingly, not whether defendant recognized what he was shooting; claim of accid......
  • Overcriminalization and the Endangered Species Act: Mens Rea and Criminal Convictions for Take
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 46-6, June 2016
    • June 1, 2016
    ...question, similarly ruling that knowledge that an action will take a particular species is not required. See United States v. St. Onge, 676 F. Supp. 1044, 1045 (D. Mont. 1988); United States v. Billie, 667 F. Supp. 1485 (S.D. Fla. 1987). 5. See Brief for United States in Opposition, McKittr......
  • U.S. v. Zak, CR No. 06-30011-MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 14, 2007
    ...(citing H.R.Rep. No. 95-1625, at 26 (1978), reprinted in 1978 Page 222 U.S.C.C.A.N. 9453, 9476); see also United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D.Mont.1988) ("The critical issue is whether the act was done knowingly, not whether the defendant recognized what he was shooting.");......
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10 cases
  • Loggerhead Turtle v. County Council of Volusia County, Fla., No. 97-2083
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 3, 1998
    ...lacks the Service's permission to take sea turtles through artificial beachfront lighting. See generally United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D.Mont.1988) ("[T]he court intends to instruct the jury that the government must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in orde......
  • WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No. CV–13–00392–TUC–DCB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • June 19, 2017
    ...shooting a Mexican gray wolf." (Order (Doc. 30) at 17 (citing McKittrick, 142 F.3d at 1177 ) (relying on United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D. Mont. 1988) (critical issue is whether act was done knowingly, not whether defendant recognized what he was shooting; claim of accid......
  • U.S. v. Zak, CR No. 06-30011-MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 14, 2007
    ...(citing H.R.Rep. No. 95-1625, at 26 (1978), reprinted in 1978 Page 222 U.S.C.C.A.N. 9453, 9476); see also United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D.Mont.1988) ("The critical issue is whether the act was done knowingly, not whether the defendant recognized what he was shooting.");......
  • U.S. v. McKittrick, No. 97-30090
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 28, 1998
    ...issue is whether the act was done knowingly, not whether the defendant recognized what he was shooting." United States v. St. Onge, 676 F.Supp. 1044, 1045 (D.Mont.1988); see also Billie, 667 F.Supp. at 1493 ("[T]he Government need prove only that the defendant acted with general intent when......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Overcriminalization and the Endangered Species Act: Mens Rea and Criminal Convictions for Take
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 46-6, June 2016
    • June 1, 2016
    ...question, similarly ruling that knowledge that an action will take a particular species is not required. See United States v. St. Onge, 676 F. Supp. 1044, 1045 (D. Mont. 1988); United States v. Billie, 667 F. Supp. 1485 (S.D. Fla. 1987). 5. See Brief for United States in Opposition, McKittr......

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