If Tydings Owen McGinnis had known selling 45 stuffed Canada geese decoys was a federal offense, he says he certainly wouldn't have advertised the sale of the birds in the newspaper.
"I wouldn't be that much of a fool," said the 64-year-old retired accountant and Eastern Shoreman. "There wasn't anything sneaky or under the table about it. I was just looking for somebody to take them off my hands."
But it is a federal offense, and a grand jury in Baltimore Thursday indicted the former school board accountant on a felony charge of "knowingly" attempting to sell the decoys last Dec. 18 in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
If convicted of the charge, Mr. McGinnis could go to jail.
Robert M. Thomas Jr., the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, refused to comment yesterday. And the agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who posed as a hunter in an attempt to buy the mounted Canada geese -- decoys used in hunting that are known as stuffers -- would only explain the parameters of the law Mr. McGinnis is accused of violating.
That law strictly regulates the possession, sale, barter, purchase and transportation of migratory wildfowl, including "their parts, products, nests or eggs," said Pat Rogers of the Maryland-Delaware division of the wildlife service.
"Even the possession of the feathers of a cardinal or bluebird is prohibited," said Ms. Rogers. "Mr. McGinnis had the law explained to him . . . and the geese were taken from him."
At the time of the incident, Mr. McGinnis said he wasn't too interested in selling the decoys. It was the middle of hunting season and he was using them. Still, he had hurt his shoulder zTC crabbing, and hauling the decoys off a hunting field was getting to be too much. He said he planned on replacing the decoys with the newer, lightweight kind, which he eventually did.
He also placed an ad in the newspaper. A woman responded and insisted on taking a look at the decoys, he said.
"She said she was getting some for her brother," Mr. McGinnis said. "She called me three or four times."
So, with the mounted Canada geese in the back of his truck, Mr. McGinnis drove to the intersection of Route 404 and U.S. 50, where he met a man and woman in hunting gear. They talked about money, maybe $1,000 or $1,200 for the decoys.
Then, Mr. McGinnis said, "they flashed this badge on me."