Two men were arrested for having a dead American bald eagle, a protected species since the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was passed. Sheriff Mike Unger of Stanton County, Texas has asked federal authorities to take action.
Both men were Honduran nationals. They killed the eagle with an airsoft weapon on private land in the Wood Duck Recreation Area in Nebraska. They were hoping to cook and eat it.
Two men were charged with misdemeanors after they entered a private property in Nebraska, found a bald eagle perched on a tree and shot it at close range before hauling the protected bird in their vehicle with the intent to eat it, the authorities said. https://t.co/W5ZA397mpD
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 2, 2023
Unger hopes that federal officials will bring more serious charges against the guys than the misdemeanor for unauthorized possession of the eagle on which they were cited.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a first-time offender can face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for shooting a bald eagle.
However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not responded to Unger’s requests for assistance. The men were issued citations and freed, pending an April court date. Although further charges may be filed, under Nebraska law, suspects cannot be detained in custody prior to their court date.
Several people in the area are disturbed by what happened, but according to Unger, the property owners who reported the strange car to the police are the most distressed because the eagle was shot on their land.
American bald eagles were withdrawn from the Endangered Species Act’s protection list in 2007, thanks to conservation efforts and the 1972 ban on the pesticide DDT.
According to Unger, the men did not speak English. It was unclear if they knew bald eagles are legally protected in the United States. The only identity they had was the paperwork from the Honduran consulate.
As stated by Unger, the men’s behavior suggests they are unaware of the bird’s protected status or at least they are unaware the bird is protected with the level of sensitivity one would expect for a national symbol.
Two men in Nebraska have been cited after hunting and killing a bald eagle, according to the Stanton County Sheriff’s Office.https://t.co/vF5DKS5UPe
— CNN (@CNN) March 5, 2023
Many locals are outraged that the guys were charged with unauthorized possession of the eagle, which has sparked a public outcry over the issue.
According to Unger, “the national government is the one that truly has the jurisdiction and the capacity to prosecute these people to the utmost degree.”
As a result of the bald eagle’s standing in the United States of America, he is holding out hope that the federal government will take more action to handle the men involved in this case.
Despite repeated attempts, he has been unable to reach a live person at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to Unger, the firearm used to shoot the eagle may have been purchased with cash and without providing identification. He said, “We find this extremely disturbing, I’m sure nationwide, but locally it’s been quite alarming to the folks.”This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.