Western Pa. farmer and employee charged with poisoning birds

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Canada geese

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A western Pennsylvania farmer and his employee were charged in federal court for allegedly poisoning migratory birds with pesticide-laced corn.

Robert Yost, 50, of New Galilee, and Jacob Reese, 25 of Enon Valley, were each charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,  according to U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman. The charges were announced Sept. 8. 

On June 22, 2020, Yost, owner of Yost Farms, allegedly directed his employee, Reese, to spread whole kernel corn coated in carbofuran, a registered restricted-use pesticide, in and around a leased field used to grow soybeans, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

About 17 Canada geese, 10 red-winged blackbirds and one mallard duck were killed a short distance from where they ingested the tainted corn, the release stated.

The men then “took efforts to conceal their efforts to poison and kill migratory birds, including by destroying the feed bag containing the carbofuran-laced whole corn kernel,” according to the release.

Yost and Reese face a total maximum term of imprisonment of 13 months and a total fine of $31,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement, Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division, and Pennsylvania Game Commission conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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