CAROLINE, N.Y. – A Tompkins County man has been fined a total of $3,500 and assigned 50 hours of community service after shooting a bald eagle in December.
Donald Mix, 58, of Caroline, pleaded guilty April 16 in the Town of Caroline Court to a misdemeanor charge under New York agriculture and markets law section 353, which covers cruelty to “wild and tame” animals.
“A person who overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another… is guilty of a class A misdemeanor,” the statute reads.
Bald eagles are considered a threatened species in New York, and are protected by Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. Mix agreed to a civil compromise on DEC charges for taking a bald eagle in violation of fish and wildlife and hunting laws.
According to a DEC press release, Mix shot the eagle on Dec. 15 after it was lured to his yard by a deer carcass. A neighbor initially reported hearing gunshots and seeing a large bird flapping on the ground. DEC conservation officer Ozzie Eisenberg responded and found a dead bald eagle with a gunshot wound, according to the news release.
Mix told Eisenberg he mistook the eagle for a turkey vulture, according to an agency spokesperson. Turkey vultures are also a protected bird species in New York.
“A subsequent interview with a neighbor revealed that the man had placed deer carcasses in the field to shoot coyotes and turkey vultures, another protected species,” the DEC said.
Mix was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 50 hours community service for the agriculture and markets misdemeanor charge and fined a total of $2,497 for the DEC violations.
Featured image: Bald eagle flying. (Andy Morffew/Flickr Creative Commons)