Year in federal prison for shooting crow, woodcock

Jeremiah Ruhl, 46, of Colchester recently was sentenced to twelve months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions III, according to court records.  Ruhl had previously pled guilty to the unlawful killing of a crow and woodcock without a license and unlawful possession of a turkey vulture without a permit.

All three of these birds are “migratory birds” and protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Ruhl also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing a Stevens .410 shotgun after previously having been convicted of a felony. Judge Sessions also ordered Ruhl to serve two years on federal supervised release after he is released from prison.

Ruhl faced a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the possession of a firearm-by-a-felon violation. For the Migratory Bird Treaty Act violations, Ruhl faced a maximum of six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for each of the three counts.

The Government argued in its sentencing memorandum that a jail sentence was appropriate given the “aggravating factors” in the case, in particular “the defendant’s long history of violating Vermont’s game laws, which stands in stark contrast to his professed affection for Vermont’s wildlife.”

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan Ophardt stated, “This case represents a successful joint investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, state game wardens, and federal wildlife agents to vigorously investigate and prosecute federal wildlife crimes that undermine state and federal efforts to protect the precious natural resources of our beautiful State.”

Criminal enforcement of the MBTA has differed among recent presidential administrations, according the the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

“On October 4, 2021, the Service published a final rule revoking the January 7, 2021, regulation that limited the scope of the MBTA. With this final and formal revocation of the January 7 rule, the Service returns to implementing the MBTA as prohibiting incidental take and applying enforcement discretion, consistent with judicial precedent and long-standing agency practice prior to 2017. This final rule goes into effect on December 3, 2021.”

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9 replies »

  1. I love animals and feel that our wild life should be protected. Although, I find it odd that fentnol dealers are released without significant penalties or imprisonment, but someone who shots a crow and has a turkey vulture gets 1 year in prison and two years probation. Why not put the fentinol dealer in jail and the person who shot the crow on probation? The individual who shot the crow is not a significant threat, but the fentinol dealer is.

    • Are you questioning the way a “Liberal” criminal justice system enforces and prosecutes criminal offenses ? Me too !

    • Re: “Why not put the [fentanyl] dealer in jail and the person who shot the crow on probation?”

      Does anyone believe Judge Sessions or U. S. Attorney Ophardt will answer this very pertinent question?

      Please add me to the list of inquiring minds who want to know.

  2. Once again the folly of “gun control” legislation becomes evident. The perpetrator of this crime already had a felony conviction which “prohibited” him from possession of a modern firearm. Just another example of the fact that if someone wants to commit a crime badly enough, a paper law will not stop them. I am glad that the perpetrator will be charged with crimes, but without teeth, (consequences) what good are paper laws ?

  3. A couple of years ago, Vermont felt it needed an equivalent law to the Federal Law 922 which addressed a “Felon in Possession” of a firearm.
    A Felon in Possession of a firearm, by Federal Law, is guilty of a Felony.
    When Vermont enacted it’s equivalent law – they made it a misdemeanor.

  4. Violating a Federal Law is violation of Federal Law, period, in a case like this. But where and when do the perpetrators of the stolen 2020 election get their punishment? It seems that there is a lot of overlooking the facts depending on what they are. Equal protection?