What Areas Do Animal, Birds, Fish, and Plants Crimes Cover?


If you have been charged with a crime under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 3 – Animal, Birds, Fish and Plants Crimes, you may be unaware of what all this covers since there are quite a few criminal acts encompassed.

According to the Legal Information Institute, these crimes fall under a variety of categories which include:

18 U.S. Code 41 – Hunting, Fishing, Trapping; Disturbance or Injury on Wildlife Refuges

This crime is for those who hunts, kills, or even disturbs certain wildlife that is located on a refuge or sanctuary. Unless there is a special situation where the law deems a legal hunt, destroying property, taking animals or disturbing their nesting areas, killing animals, birds, or fish is prohibited and a fine and/or imprisonment is possible.

18 U.S.C. 42 – Importation or Shipment of Injurious Mammals, Birds, Fish (including mollusks and crustacea), Amphibia, and Reptiles

This statute covers a lot of prohibited species but basically, these are plants that are invasive, animals that are deemed as wildlife, and aquatic and plant life that is necessary to sustain wildlife. There are permits however for such situations as specimens for museums.

18 U.S.C. 43 – Force, Violence, and Threats Involving Animal Enterprises

This particular statute covers a lot of violations. The main part of the offense is “Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce” and that includes damaging property or records of animal enterprises, placing a person in fear of their life or serious bodily injury, etc. Basically, this is an amendment to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 and specifically targeted activists. So, if you are an animal rights activist and cause injury to a worker at a zoo during a protest, this is something that would most likely be covered.

18 U.S.C. 46 – Transportation of Water Hyacinths

This may seem like a very odd and specific statute but this is a non-indigenous plant that becomes invasive when introduced to bodies of water. For instance, these plants not only reduce light and oxygen that is found in the water, they shade out other plants, reduce the amount of water available, and compete with native plants.

18 U.S.C. 47 – Use of Aircraft or Motor Vehicles to Hunt Certain Wild Horses or Burros; Pollution

This covers the crimes of hunting wild horses, colts, mares, and burros on public land or ranges. It also covers polluting watering holes on public land or ranges for the sole purpose of killing, trapping, or wounding animals.

18 U.S.C. 48 – Depiction of Animal Cruelty

This means that it is a criminal act to create, possess, or sell depictions of animal cruelty and this means for commercial gain. Certain religious, research, and historical accounts do not fall under this statute.

It also does not matter if the depiction took place in the state where it is illegal because possessing or selling the animal cruelty takes precedence. A few years ago, there were many instances of what is called “crushing” where small animals were crushed under a woman’s foot for the purpose of fetish videos. This is just one example of 18 U.S.C 48.

18 U.S.C. 49 – Enforcement of Animal Fighting Prohibitions

This is for those who set up animal fighting ventures or participates in animal fighting. Dog fighting and cock-fighting are the most popular and the most known crimes under animal fighting prohibitions.

If you have been charged under animal, birds, fish, and plants crimes, it is important to speak to a lawyer so that you not only know your rights but can try to successfully clear up any misconceptions about your particular crime so that you have the best outcome. Simply contact us and tell us more about your charges so we can help. We will be glad to answer your questions and provide you with an experience attorney who knows the law to your advantage.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.