Date: 11/1/19 11:57 am
From: Mark Pethke <mdpethke...>
Subject: [LABIRD-L] Whooping Crane killer pled guilty, sentenced
This morning I attended the court hearing in Lafayette in the Federal
District Court for the Western District of Louisiana for Gilvin Aucoin,
Jr., 53 years of age, who pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the
Migratory Bird Act for his July 2018 shooting and killing of a whooping
crane in Evangeline Parish. Aucoin pled guilty before Federal Magistrate
Judge Carol Whitehurst, and faced a maximum sentence of six months
imprisonment and a $15,000.00 fine. Magistrate Whitehurst considered memos
submitted by both the defense and the government and noted that she
received a number of letters from conservation groups including the
International Crane Foundation, the Louisiana Ornithological Society,
Orleans Audubon, and the Louisiana Chapter of the National Audubon
Society. She admonished Aucoin that he had committed a significant offense
and noted the great expense and care involved in raising whooping cranes,
that whooping cranes mate for life, and that she was particularly struck by
the fact that the dead bird's female mate had been greatly distressed by
his absence. She sentenced Aucoin to two years probation, waived a fine
due to his indigent status, and required him to complete 120 hours of
community service, preferably in a program devoted to animal conservation
or shelters, to be supervised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Aucoin also must complete a hunting education course through the Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and is prohibited from hunting or
fishing during his term of supervision.

Aucoin's relatively light sentence resulted from his status as a first
offender. It developed that this is Aucoin's first encounter with law
enforcement, that he is on Social Security disability, and that he and his
wife are responsible for raising his two orphaned grandchildren. Aucoin
admitted to a sixth grade education. He many times referred to the
shooting as a tragic mistake, though his public defender on at least two
occasions told the court that no one should be shooting at anything if
they're not sure what it is. For what it's worth, Aucion's remorse seemed
sincere.

A number of persons from conservation organizations were present for
sentencing, a presence that was noted by the judge, and included Katie
Barnes from Audubon of Louisiana, Joan Garvey and Mark Meunier from Orleans
Audubon, Lizzie Condon and Anna Turkett from the International Crane
Foundation, two representatives from a Lafayette canoeing club, and a
representative from the LDWF.
 
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