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 the 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.
Thacker must forfeit all assets involved in the incident, including the .22 caliber rifle used to shoot the eagle.
Since 1972 the government has imposed stricter laws that prohibit the hunting and killing of bald eagles in the U.S.
Photo credidt: Wikimedia Commons