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Screech-Owl sale: Fort Worth man bought trouble

Special to The News

TYLER – A  Fort Worth man faces up to six months in prison after pleading guilty Monday to federal wildlife violations in the Eastern District of Texas.

U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown said Jorge Fernando Mercado, 46, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with unlawful possession of migratory birds before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.

According to information presented in court, Mercado possessed and sold a live Eastern Screech-Owl —Megascops asio — to another individual for $200 on Sep. 30, 2017 in Van Zandt County. The Eastern Screech-Owl is a “migratory bird” protected by federal statute and international conventions. Mercado admitted that he knowingly possessed and sold the owl without a valid permit or authorization.

Mercado faces up to six months in federal prison at sentencing, under federal statutes, Brown said. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

The owl was recovered and rehabilitated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife and has since been released back into the wild.

This case was investigated by Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.