A Smithfield man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to killing a bald eagle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Allen Thacker, 62, is accused of first firing a warning shot, then shooting the bald eagle because it was taking fish from his pond, a news release said. He then shot the bird using a Remington .22 caliber rifle and ran the bird over with his all-terrain vehicle, the release said.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Allen H. Thacker shot the eagle “because he was upset it had been hunting and taking fish from a pond located on his property,” a Department of Justice news release stated.
“Thacker also expressed his feelings that too much emphasis is placed on bald eagle protection because the birds are a menace and further stated that people with whom he associates feel the same way,” court documents state.
According to the statement of facts filed in court, a witness driving near Mill Swamp Road saw a man run over the bird March 13. The bird was large and had a white head and tail, court documents show. She saw the man drive the ATV in a circle and run the eagle over three or four times, and then saw the man drag the eagle from the field and into the woods, court documents show.
In his guilty plea Tuesday, Thacker admitted to shooting the bird and running it over. The specific charge is unlawful taking of a bald eagle, the release stated.
Thacker faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine when sentenced on October 23.