Man fined $1,000 for trying to sell protected birds to undercover agent

Vista man fined $1,000, placed on probation after pleading guilty to selling protected species of birds

 A Vista man was fined $1,000 and put on a year's probation after pleading guilty to attempting to sell three protected birds: two Bali Mynas and a Philippine Buff Banded Rail.

Christopher Estep, 58, was charged after attempting to sell the birds to an undercover agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes also ordered Estep to pay $1,800 restitution to the wildlife service. Estep told Stormes that he no longer sells birds and reptiles and instead is selling antiques.

Estep admitted that he did not have federal permits to purchase or sell endangered species or migratory brids. Agents spotted Estep's offer to sell the birds on Internet sites.

After ''haggling" with the undercover agent, Estep agreed to sell the birds for more than $2,000, according to court documents.

The myna, also known as Rothschild's mynah, the Bali starling, or the Jalak Bali, is the regional mascot of Bali and faces extinction in the wild. 

The Philippine Buff Banded Rail is found in New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. It is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The birds were seized by federal agents and will be given to a zoo in San Diego or Los Angeles.




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