OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A San Francisco man was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for poaching steelhead trout in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and lying about it to investigators. Luke Brugnara, 46, admitted he intentionally blocked the steelheads’ upstream migration path through Little Arthur Creek by sealing the opening of a dam on his property in Gilroy.
Prosecutors said it was the first federal criminal prosecution for steelhead poaching by blocking access to critical upstream habitat.
State and federal investigators had seen trapped adult steelhead downstream from Brugnara’s dam that could not migrate upstream to their spawning grounds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“When the rescue team arrived to move the steelhead upstream, investigators found that the steelhead were gone and located significant evidence of poaching activities,” prosecutors said.
Brugnara admitted he lied to wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game during its yearlong investigation with federal authorities.
Agencies involved in the investigation declined to comment on Friday.