VICTORIA, Texas (CN) - A federal judge sentenced the owner of a South Texas fish farm to 18 months probation for illegally killing 90 brown pelicans and dozens of other birds. Khan Vu, the owner of Seaside Aquaculture, of Palacios, Texas, also must pay $40,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and a $5,000 fine.
Vu and his business were charged with killing migratory nongame birds, in violation of The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. A federal jury convicted him in August after a day and a half trial, and 3½ hours of deliberation.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department got a tip from a former contract worker that Vu and his employees illegally killed many species of birds. A Fish & Wildlife agent then found and photographed several empty shotgun shells and bird carcasses in and around the fish farm. State and federal agents raided the farm with a warrant in February.
"The agents found the carcasses of approximately 90 brown pelicans, 17 great blue herons, five great egrets, four black-crowned night herons, four turkey vultures, two osprey, two gulls and one scaup," prosecutors said in a statement.
"Seaside's employees denied shooting any birds; however, owner Vu admitted to shooting six pelicans to prevent them from eating his fish. At trial, and again at the sentencing hearing today, the defense unsuccessfully attempted to assert that the birds had died as a result of running into power lines."