In United States v. Boynton, the Fourth Circuit upheld the convictions of three defendants for hunting migratory birds over a baited area in violation of the anti-baiting regulation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (META). The Court, disagreeing with the Sixth Circuit, held that misdemeanor violation of the MBTA, including hunting over a baited area, are strict liability crimes, and thus an objective standard should be used to determine the applicability of the "bona fide agricultural operations or procedures" exception to the anti-baiting regulation. This holding demonstrates the difficulty that courts confront when deciding whether to apply an objective standard or a subjective standard to the exceptions of the anti-baiting regulation. This Case Note explains the background of the anti-baiting regulation, the factual and procedural history of the Boynton decision, and goes on to suggest that a better interpretation of the anti-baiting regulation is a subjective one requiring proof of the intent of the person who seeded the field, as opposed to the technical inquiry used in Boynton to determine the confines of accepted farming practices in the community. This Case Note proposes that if the Secretary of the Interior disagrees with this analysis, he should resolve the division among the Circuits by redrafting the regulation so as to eliminate the need for a subjective application. The re-drafting that the author suggests would make the standard for determining the applicability purely objective, thus providing a more dependable and practical inquiry for the hunter attempting to avoid culpability, and continuing the ease of prosecution created by the strict liability nature of the offense.
Recommended CitationWilliam E. Sulzer, United States v. Boynton: A Bona Fide Reason for Applying a Subjective Standard to the Exceptions of the Anti-Baiting Regulation, 14 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 767 (1997)
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