Trees, Tip-lines, & You:
Nurture Nearby Nature…or Else!

Murder (of Trees!) Was The Case That They Gave Me!


While preparing for the construction of their new house, Jefferey and Jonetta Walter uprooted and then buried 36 Joshua Trees.  Under California law (where the incident took place) are protected under the state’s Endangered Species Act.  A anonymous neighbor called the wildlife department’s tip-line to report the wrong-doings of the Walters, and when an officer made it to the property, he found a freshly dug and refilled hole filled with the already endangered species of tree.

The couple originally claimed that they mistakenly thought small trees could be removed.  As San Bernadino County’s Supervising Deputy District Attorney Douglas Poston explained though, “If you kill a Joshua Tree and if the evidence is there we will prosecute. It’s a crime. You don’t have to like the law, but it’s the law and we take it very seriously,” .

We have talked a lot before about how ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, so they were given 36 misdemeanor counts; one for each tree uprooted. They were also given a fine of $18,000 and must volunteer in the Joshua Tree National Park. If they don’t follow the terms of their punishment, they can face up to 6 months in failed and over $4000 fine for EACH count.



  1. What punishments could one face in Nevada for killing an endangered species?
  2. Do you believe the couple should be given more leniency (tolerance) because they claimed not to know the law? Why or why not?

  3. What evidence suggests these people knew EXACTLY what the law was anyway?
  4. What steps can you take to ensure you don’t accidentally break laws….and then face the consequences of those actions?


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:



NotAllEndangeredSpeciesAreFuzzy, Timber, TIMMMMBEEERRRRRR,

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