Defendants are a farmer and his employee. In 2020, on a rented field next to wetlands, they planted soybeans. In June 2020,  the farmer’s employees were attempting to scare off geese that were eating the soybean crop. Later in the summer the farmer’s employee spread something on the edge of the field near the wetlands. The next day the landlord and their son went to the field and noticed yellow corn in a line on the ground, near dead birds. In total there were 17 geese, 1 female mallard duck, and 7 red-winged birds that were found near the corn. The Pennsylvania Game Commission was called and took samples. The testing found that carbofuran was present in the corn and the dead birds.

When asked about the situation the following day, the farmer said that he had directed his employee to spread seed corn “to feed the geese to keep them away from his plants.” He denied that the corn was intentionally poisoned. Instead, he claimed he made a mistake by directing his employee to spread seed corn instead of “regular corn.” He then showed the pink coated seed corn to the investigating agent.

The United States brought three claims against defendants and found the defendants guilty of all three. The defendants were found guilty of conspiracy. The alleged objective of the conspiracy was to (1) violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)  by using carbofuran for an illegal purpose and (2) violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by unlawfully killing migratory birds without permit or authorization. The court found that both defendants were familiar with agrichemicals and therefore would have known that carbofuran was on the corn and that it had no authorized uses since 2009. Further, the court reasoned that the defendants knew of the illegality of their actions when they directed the investigation agent to the pink seed corn, which “had obviously different physical characteristics” than the corn found in the field. The other two claims against the defendants were violations of FIFRA and MBTA. The court found the defendants guilty of violating both for the same reasons they were guilty of a conspiracy.

U.S. v. Yost & Reese, Crim. No. 2:21-cr-00467-WSH (W.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2024).