PGC will not release basic documents under RTKL
Middleburg, PA: February 5, 2015: When you begin your investigation after charging someone, much less not even referencing the applicable State Code, you are bound to get something wrong! That's just what the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), Chief of Special Permits, Chad Eyler did when he rushed into pushing the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to charge Falconer and Raptor Propagator (breeder), Mike Dupuy.
Both Falconry and the breeding of Raptors is a complicated area when it comes to the law. Dupuy pays $200 a year for Federal and State Permits specifically to breed raptors. Back in 2012 when the Federal regulations were revised Dupuy found out he could take wild stock for his propagation efforts. He confirmed this by calling his FWS Regional Office. FWS sent him an email confirming it was allowed.
In 2014 Dupuy went about his yearly scouting missions in forests across Pennsylvania in search of breeding stock for his propagation project, and to study woodland hawks. In June 2014, after acquiring 3 birds for his breeding project and Falconry, Dupuy contacted the PGC requesting ID bands for the birds, which are required by law.
Instead of receiving the bands, Dupuy was visited at his home by a Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) from the PGC and a Special Agent from FWS claiming he was not allowed to acquire birds for propagation. According to Dupuy “That’s when this whole situation became bizarre.”
Dupuy’s federal attorney has repeatedly pointed out to the FWS that the requirement for Dupuy to get written permission has been satisfied because in PA such permission is given in the State Code: § 147.205. Stock used for propagation, which grants a specific exception for “raptors.” It has been further satisfied because Dupuy holds “a valid wildlife propagation permit”:
§ 147.205. Stock Used for Propagation:
Stock used for the propagation of wild birds and wild animals, except raptors, may not be birds or animals which have been removed from the wild. Parent birds and animals shall be secured from a person holding a valid wildlife propagation permit, the Commission or be legally imported into this Commonwealth. Source: The provisions of this § 147.205 adopted July 7, 1989, effective July 8, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 2956.
Sunbury Attorney, Thomas Boop, the recently retired President of the PA Game Commision Board previously met Mike during one of his public speaking engagements, and was impressed with his knowledge of birds of prey. After hearing what was being alleged and reviewing the facts, Boop offered to represent Dupuy as his attorney. Due to the PGC's weak case and Dupuy's strong counsel, the PGC got the Feds to carry their water by getting FWS to charge Dupuy. “I have a paper trail that documents the PGC's Special Permits Office making up the rules as they go and not delivering on their responsibilities to citizens!,” said Dupuy.
These are the keys questions to ask: Who instigated the charge at the PGC? How the alleged "crime" was discovered, (actually, it was Dupuy who sent an email the PGC requesting bands for the new birds)? Who brought in the person that filed the charges for FWS (USFWS Special Agent)? Who says the US S/A told him not to release Dupuy's RTKL documents to him? Who filed a sworn affidavit to prevent Dupuy from seeing his own records? Then go back to the State Code and find no CRIME was committed because Dupuy was "PERMITTED" to do just what he did.
Mike Dupuy is a Professional Public Speaker specializing in Falconry and Birds of Prey. He just returned from attending the Festival of Falconry in Abu Dhabi, and was a guest speaker at the California Hawking Club last month, his subject was: “The Decriminalization of Falconry”. Dupuy and his family run a small business related to Raptors on their Central PA Farm. Media contacts may find a biography, video/radio interviews, clips, articles about and by Mike Dupuy at: www.mikedupuyfalconry.com/marketing
Dupuy appears before a Federal Magistrate Judge to hear the case on February 18, 2015, in Harrisburg. The Judge in a ruling Denying “without Prejudice”..., the Motion to Dismiss, stated that “Dupuy raises potentially meritorious defenses ….”
You can quote any of the following and attribute it to Mike Dupuy:
“I have basically been charged with the equivalent of doing 55 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. The ironic thing is that even after having this pointed out to them FWS (PGC) won't do the right thing and drop the charges."
“What makes this process outrageous is that I am charged with something deemed legal in the PA State Code (147.205.) which allows for permitted parties the taking of raptors for purposes of propagation.”
“Most ‘wild’ birds are considered ‘Migratory,’ and are protected by special Federal Laws, charges relating to these laws are considered ‘criminal.’ Even though I pay for Federal and State Permits for exactly what I’m doing they want to take more of my money by making me pay legal fees to defend my-self for doing what my permits allow me to do, its absurd!”
“I informed the PGC I had acquired these birds and they are alleging that I have committed a crime? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“PGC Knowing they have made an error wants me to take a plea deal which takes the ‘criminal’ off the table. At the same time they deny me access to my documents, and refuse to drop the charge against me. Even my Game Commissioner, Ronald Weaner, has been told they can't discuss my situation with him because of pending litigation.”
“PGC is denying me my rights under the state Right To Know Law (RTKL), pretending they are shielding a ‘Criminal investigation’. In November 2014 the Office of Open Records (OOR) sided with me and ordered PGC to surrender all documents in my file to me. They continue to waste our fees by denying a citizen with basic documents about them. It makes me wonder what they are hiding? Why go through so much trouble to provide me with basic documents?”
“All I have asked for are documents from me, to me, or about me. How much more basic could a citizen’s request be? PGC's response to the order from the OOR about my request for my basic info was to first deny. Once I applied pressure they trickled a few innocuous documents, I guess, in hopes that I would go away. If ordered to release the documents it seems they want to take it all the way to the Supreme Court!”
“When I attempt to explain this bizarre legal situation to people their first reaction is ‘Don't they have anything more important to do?’ ‘Don’t they have more important things to spend our money on?’