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For Release: Thursday, March 6, 2014

DEC & USFWS Investigation Leads to 190 Violation Counts for Attica Man in Wildlife Case

On February 10, 2014, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Officers, accompanied by a Special Agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, executed a search warrant at the residence of John P. Volpe, age 62, of the Town of Attica. This warrant was the culmination of an investigation into the illegal possession of protected turtles and birds of prey.

"New York is home to a variety of wildlife, including some species that need special protection to ensure their populations remain strong," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "State and federal laws and regulations are designed to protect wildlife whose existence is threatened, and individuals are required to have permits to possess certain species. DEC is committed to enforcing these protections and, in this case, worked closely with our federal partner to stop this illegal activity."

Mr. Volpe was found to be in possession of more than 100 live native turtles, including one live wood turtle, which is currently listed as a "species of special concern" in New York State. In addition to the turtles, Mr. Volpe possessed a live screech owl, a live red-tailed hawk, and three live song birds. He was also found to possess taxidermy mounts of more than a dozen species of protected birds of prey including; screech owls, great-horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, saw-whet owls, red-tailed hawks, coopers hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, kestrels and turkey vultures.

It is a violation of New York State law to possess certain types of wildlife (live or dead) without a permit or license issued through DEC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or in some instances both. Mr. Volpe was not able to produce any type of permit or license, and therefore could not lawfully possess any of these items. On February 19, 2014, Mr. Volpe was charged with the following violations of the NYS Environmental Conservation Law:

  • Unlawful Possession of Screech Owls, 18 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Great Horned Owls, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Saw-Whet Owls, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Barred Owl
  • Unlawful Possession of a Snowy Owl
  • Unlawful Possession of Red-Tailed Hawks, 6 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Coppers Hawks, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Sharp-Shinned Hawks, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Red-Shouldered Hawks, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Kestrel
  • Unlawful Possession of Turkey Vultures, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Gulls, 5 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Robins, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Mourning Doves, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Blue Jays, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Wood Thrush
  • Unlawful Possession of Gold Finches', 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Slate Colored Junco
  • Unlawful Possession of a Yellow Throated Sparrow
  • Unlawful Possession of a Northern Oriole
  • Unlawful Possession of a House Wren
  • Unlawful Possession of Barn Swallows, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Downy Woodpecker
  • Unlawful Possession of Eastern Flickers, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Grackles, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Chickadee
  • Unlawful Possession of Warblers, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of a Killdeer
  • Unlawful Possession of a Great Blue Heron
  • Unlawful Possession of a Green Heron
  • Unlawful Possession of a Pied-billed Grebe
  • Unlawful Possession of a Buffle Head
  • Unlawful Possession of Snapping Turtles, 102 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Painted Turtles, 2 counts
  • Unlawful Possession of Wood Turtles, 4 counts

In 2005, Mr. Volpe was also found to be in possession of two live birds of prey. Following that investigation, the birds were placed with a licensed facility and Mr. Volpe was given the opportunity to go through the licensing process, which he did not. In addition to the state charges, Mr. Volpe faces federal charges in conjunction with work he performed in his taxidermy shop on migratory waterfowl, as well as his possession of both Bald and Golden Eagle parts/mounts. The federal charges are pending.

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