A Virginia man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to first shooting and then running over a bald eagle with his all-terrain vehicle.
Allen Thacker, 62, shot and ran over the bird "because he was upset it had been hunting and taking fish from a pond located on his property," according to the Department of Justice. A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said that Thacker first fired a warning shot at the bird, and when that didn't successfully scare it away, he shot the bird with a Remington .22 caliber rifle and then ran it over.
A necropsy performed on the bald eagle showed that the shot wounded the bird, but the blunt force trauma from being run over served as the fatal blow.
Thacker originally denied the incident, but a witness reported seeing it, and Thacker "fully admitted to shooting the bird and running it over with the all-terrain vehicle" in court documents on Tuesday, DOJ said.
At his sentencing on Oct. 23, Thatcher could face up to up a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for unlawfully taking a bald eagle, although a DOJ statement noted that "actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that though bald eagles, the national bird, were taken off the endangered species list in 2007, they are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.