A Virginia man is in trouble with the federal government after he allegedly shot a bald eagle with his Remington .22-caliber rifle and then repeatedly ran over the bird with his ATV. The man pled guilty Thursday and faces one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. He will be sentenced in October.
Allen H. Thacker saw no problem with his actions on March 13, 2017. The 62-year-old told authorities that the eagle was killing small game on his land, and he had a right to protect his property. He told them that he fired a warning shot in the area of the bird, but it was undeterred.
He was only brought to justice after a witness reported seeing a man run over what appeared to be a bald eagle and dragging the body into a wooded area.
Authorities looked for the eagle in the wooded area but came up empty-handed. What they did find was Thacker riding on a vehicle that fit the description of the ATV that the witness reported seeing.
Initially, Thacker denied killing the eagle, but after further questioning, he admitted to shooting it, running it over, and then disposing of the body. He eventually led officials from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to the location where he had dumped the dead bird.
The justice department reported that Thacker said he felt there was too much emphasis on the national bird, and the eagle was nothing more than a menace.
Thacker defended his actions stating that he put a lot of time and effort into maintaining his property, so his friends and family could enjoy using it.
After a brief necropsy, it was determined that the eagle died from blunt force trauma to the head and had been injured from Thacker’s shot. However, “the medical examiner found no evidence that Thacker used a pistol to kill the bird as he had claimed,” the court document states.
Thacker will be sentenced on Oct. 23. In 2007, the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state that even though they are no longer endangered, they still want to increase the species’ numbers.