- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dropped plans to pursue criminal charges against a California tree trimmer who accidentally injured some baby birds — an incident that attracted the attention of the House’s chief investigator and charges of “bureaucratic bullying.”

The tree trimmer, Ernesto Pulido, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was recently told that the agency had decided to drop the case against him — an abrupt about-face just days after Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, called for a congressional inquiry.

Mr. Issa fired off a letter to the agency saying the potential criminal charges against Mr. Pulido highlighted the disparate treatment of workers in the public and private sector. He pointed misdeeds the misdeeds of federal workers who spent all day looking at pornography or hired family members for jobs but avoided criminal prosecution.

Hired by the Postal Service to trim trees at a parking lot in Oakland — where bird droppings ended up on mail trucks — Mr. Pulido cut limbs containing Black-crowned Night Herons.

Federal wildlife investigators found no birds were killed — and a San Francisco Chronicle story noted that Mr. Pulido was paying for the care of the injured birds — but, until just recently, still faced up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine.

“I’m glad to hear that in the case of Mr. Pulido, the bureaucratic bullies have backed down,” Mr. Issa said in a statement Thursday released by his office.

“The decision to press charges in the first place seems to have been based more on public outcry from outside groups and less on common sense. Mr. Pulido made a mistake, but took responsibility and made substantial efforts to make amends.”

Still, Mr. Issa said the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which he is the chairman, still has unanswered questions about “this entire head-scratching incident” and would still press for an explanation.

• Jim McElhatton can be reached at jmcelhatton@washingtontimes.com.

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