Aviation is a popular recreational activity in Utah because of our state’s many dramatic landscapes. Utah’s wildlife sometimes creates unique challenges for small airplane pilots and run-ins with flocks of birds can spur serious federal wildlife crimes charges.
The Airborne Hunting Act is a federal law that prohibits shooting or harassing animals with planes. There are very few exceptions to the Airborne Hunting Act, which is also called the Shooting from Aircraft Act.
Congress enacted the Airborne Hunting Act in 1971 in response to public outcry over an NBC video depicting wolves being shot from an airplane. The law is broadly written, however, so prosecutions have been brought against non-hunters accused of disturbing animals with airplanes or parachutes.
Utah Airborne Hunting Defense Attorneys
Charges can be brought under the Airborne Hunting Act against any individual who shoots or attempts to shoot an animal for the purpose of capturing or attempting to kill the animal. Federal prosecutors can also bring charges against individuals who use aircraft to “harass” birds, fish or other animals.
The wildlife crimes defense attorneys at Greg Smith and Associates handle airborne hunting and harassment cases throughout Utah. We can help defend you against even the most complex charges for airborne hunting activities that occur around the Great Salt Lake, Bear Lake, Utaba Reservoir and any other Utah forest or wildlife refuge.
Contact us online or call our office at 801-651-1512 to set up a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.
Penalties Under the Airborne Hunting Act
Anyone who is convicted under the Airborne Hunting Act can face serious fines and prison terms. Federal officials are permitted to fine individuals up to $5,000 and imprison violators up to a year.
A significant part of airborne hunting penalties includes forfeiture. Any animal shot from an aircraft as well as a pilot’s plane and weapons are subject to forfeiture. The Airborne Hunting Act also applies to individuals who assist in airborne hunting, which means that a pilot could lose his or her plane even if a passenger was engaged in the shooting or animal harassment activities.
Prosecutions under the Airborne Hunting Act are often brought against non-hunters because federal courts have held that the harassment prohibitions of the law are independent of the law’s aircraft hunting ban. This has allowed prosecutors to go after individuals such as skydivers who have been accused of scaring animals while landing.
The wildlife crime defense attorneys at Greg Smith and Associates represent those who have been accused of airborne animal hunting and harassment throughout Utah. We handle airborne hunting cases that occur in all Utah parks and recreational areas, including Weber County North Fork Park, Round Valley Wildlife Management Area and Capital Reef National Park.
Our lead attorney, Gregory B. Smith, has prosecutorial experience and knows what tactics federal prosecutors will use to bring airborne animal harassment charges. To set up a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call us at 801-651-1512 or contact us online.