Two men were sentenced in federal court last week after admitting to the 2007 slaughter of over 100 federally endangered Indiana bats in Kentucky. In light of the brutality of the attacks, one man received 3 years probation, while the second man, who was involved in two separate attacks on the endangered bat, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison.
Both men pleaded guilty to violating the take prohibition in the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), which provides for a maximum criminal penalty of $50,000 or one year in prison, or both. While the criminal penalties provision of the ESA has been around since the adoption of the ESA, it is not common for the federal government to pursue criminal penalties. Instead, the majority of take violations are pursued under either the ESA’s civil penalties provision or citizen suit provision. These convictions, however, are a stark reminder of the potentially significant consequence for those who dismiss the prohibitions in the ESA.
Federal and state agencies attribute the convictions to an anonymous tip.