From the U.S. District Attorney, Eastern District of Texas:
BEAUMONT, Texas – A 38-year-old Lufkin, Texas, man has pleaded guilty to violating state and federal wildlife laws, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Michael Wayne Scoggin pleaded guilty to killing an animal protected as an endangered species today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith F. Giblin.
According to information presented in court, on Apr. 8, 2011, Scoggin shot and killed a 13-foot American alligator, weighing approximately 800 pounds, with a .22 caliber rifle.
Scoggin shot the alligator from a canoe he and his girlfriend were traveling in on the Neches River in Trinity County, Texas. Scoggin then tied the alligator alongside the canoe and towed it down river to an area where he and a friend were able to load it on to his truck for transport.
In the following days, pictures of Scoggin and others with the dead alligator appeared posted at a local Academy Sporting Goods store and on the internet.
Scoggin took the alligator to a Grapeland, Texas taxidermy shop and paid $1,542.53 to have the alligator skull and hide tanned and preserved. The skull, hide and rifle were recovered by federal and state law enforcement officers in March 2012.
It is a violation of Texas law to kill an alligator in Trinity County at any time other than from September 10th to September 30th. Further it is a violation of Texas law to shoot an alligator from a boat in public water. The Endangered Species Act prohibits the taking of any threatened species of fish or wildlife in violation of any federal or state regulation pertaining to such species. Alligators are listed as a threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.
Scoggin faces up to one year in federal prison and a $100,000.00 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, Houston, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Criminal Investigations Division, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. It is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.