By: Contributed Report
July 24, 2017 | 12:03 p.m.
SMITHFIELD – A Smithfield man pleaded guilty to killing a bald eagle, first shooting and wounding the bird, then finally running over it with his all-terrain vehicle.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Allen H. Thacker, 62, shot the bald eagle because he was upset it had been hunting and taking fish from a pond located on his property. Court records indicate Thacker first tried to scare the bird away with a warning shot.
When that did not work, Thacker shot the bird with a Remington .22 caliber rifle.
According to a necropsy performed on the dead eagle, Thacker’s initial shot wounded the bird, but blunt force trauma to the bird’s skull proved fatal.
Though Thacker initially denied it when interviewed by investigators, a witness reported having seen Thacker drive over the bird with his all-terrain vehicle. In Court records filed with today’s guilty plea, Thacker fully admitted to shooting the bird and running it over with the all-terrain vehicle.
Thacker pleaded guilty to unlawful taking of a bald eagle, and faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine when sentenced on October 23.
Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Kosky is prosecuting the case.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after receiving a referral from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police.