Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Once Again, The Kennedy Name Keeps Them Out Of Jail...

And again, you have to wonder, what if their last name had been, well, something other than Kennedy?

Feds: Kennedys' sea turtle rescue was a violation
BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — Two members of the Kennedy family who thought they were doing a good deed by freeing an entangled sea turtle actually violated the law, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
John Bullard of NOAA's Division of Fisheries said he spoke to brothers Max and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about their rescue of the leatherback turtle and explained to them that what they did was dangerous and a violation of the Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to handle an endangered or protected species.
How much do you want to bet that a) this isn't a felony; and b) they won't be charged?

I'm curious how we're supposed to know which species are endangered and therefore verboten to touch vs. those that are not. The leatherback turtle, from the article, falls into the first category; how many other species also fall into this category? Are we facing a potential $50K fine and/or a year in jail for helping a turtle cross the road?

This goes hand-in-hand with the earlier post about Scabby the rat. A seemingly innocuous gesture - in this case a genuine attempt to help a struggling creature - put someone at risk of going to jail. When we have to make laws to keep people from helping turtles, well, you kind of have to wonder what the real reason for passing the law is.

Then again, didn't they go after Gibson - a GOP donor - for violating the Endangered Species Act?*

That is all.

*Yes, technically it was the Lacey Act, which centered on wildlife, fish, and plants...


Crotalus said...

They did go after Gibson Martin Guitars used the same "endangered" wood, but they got the pass because they were Obama contributors

Crotalus said...

They did go after Gibson Martin Guitars used the same "endangered" wood, but they got the pass because they were Obama contributors

NUGUN said...

What I'll argue is the problem. Is a law written to prevent people from handling and endangering "endangered animals", but not written wisely enough to allow their rescue.

Dumb dumb things.

Anonymous said...

A NOAA employee is the only one professional enough to cut a fishing line. The first thing the turtle POPO would have done is shoot the Kennedy dog.

I wonder how many critters die while waiting for the NOAA rapid response team to arrive on scene.

Good job by the Kennedy men! (Did I just say that?)


Sebastian said...

The ESA actually says you may not "annoy or harass" an endangered species. I'm not sure how US Attorney are generally supposed to figure that out, because it's not like you can put the turtle on the stand and ask whether it felt annoyed...

But yeah, it basically comes down to the fact that you can't really touch an endangered species, or even do something that might disturb it short of touching.

When I was swimming in Hawaii a few years ago, I had some of their endangered sea turtles come up and start circling me, probably expecting me to feed them. That was probably a felony, even though on the stand I'd argue they were annoying and harassing me.

Armed Texan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Armed Texan said...

The answer for your first question.

Geodkyt said...

I do not believe that cutting an entanglement (so long as you do not have to touch, get really close to, or restrain the animal AT ALL) would be a violation. But it's been almost 20 years since I dealt with this and IANAL to begin with.

However, there is a reason the law is so picky about who can do what. . .

You would be shocked at how many people have inadvertently injured or killed animals either by improper rescue techniques, or not believing the animal isn't actually in danger, but INSISTING they have to intervene RIGHT NOW.

Like people picking up sea turtles that were trying to lay their eggs, and carrying them out to see; both frustrating to the turtle's purpose, AND often injuring its flippers (joint damage from bad carry techniques) so it doesn't have great odds of survivial afterwards.

Likewise, bad actors who have intentionally harassed animals, and tried to claim they were merely trying to help.

You cannot even handle the remains of an endangered marine species. (That was included because of the reasonable fear people would kill it themselves, and then claim it was dead when they found it. That's an old poacher's trick, actually.)

Of course, designated Marine Stranding Teams aren't exactly two sets of a half dozen guys headquartered in DC, waiting for a call to hop into a Lear jet and fly out to Free Willy. Pretty much any scientific institute (including environmental organizations and colleges) can get designated as having an "officially approved" marine stranding team, which CAN handle the animals as needed.

I know, I was on one of those teams. As a temp, doing database management in an conservationist organization. And as such, I did respond to plenty of incidents, including a few where we had to ask law enforcement to physically restrain people who were trying to mess with perfectly healthy, happy, safe animals doing their own thing, because Johnny Q Bunnyhugger was convinced the animals were in distress. (For example, just because you see dolphins in shallow water near buoys, doesn't mean they are beached or entangled. . . even if they aren't moving.)

Roger said...

Gee, I guess that my friend and I are guilty of aiding a sea turtle.
When diving in the Florida Keys, we came upon a large turtle with its right rear flipper entangled in monofilament fishing line wrapped around a coral head. We cut this animal free of the monofilament and it swam up (for a breath) and away.
The turtle would not survive long without surfacing for air, so I suppose we illegally saved its life.
Someone was happy that we perpetrated an illegal act however.
Moments after the turtle swam away, a group of about 8 spotted Eagle Rays flew by, then returned & flew by again. Magnificent creatures, perhaps sent by "someone" to thank us for the turtles life.
True story, I swear on my Anschutz rifle.

Old NFO said...

They are Kennedys, the rules don't apply to them... sigh

Heath J said...

Those assholes could've hauled said turtle to the beach and bbq'd it and never faced charges.

Still, good on em' for helping a turtle out :D

Ancient Woodsman said...

How timely.

Today is the 44th anniversary of Ted's long drive off a short pier.

Rest in Peace, Mary Jo.

Mikael said...

Ignorance is no excuse for a stupid law(maker).

I guess I better shut up if I save an endangered turtle in american waters. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to go to their aid, it wouldn't be the first time I've saved a marine animal by cutting discarded fishing line. I'm a scuba diving instructor.

Ed said...

So remember kids, if you are unsure of whether something is legal or illegal within our arcane laws, do nothing, even if it means wildlife dies unnecessarily.