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Texas Farmer Pleads Guilty for Poisoning Federally Protected Bald Eagle in 2018



American Bald Eagle | Texas Farmer Pleads Guilty for Poisoning Federally Protected Bald Eagle in 2018 | Featured

35-year-old Leonard Cornelius, owner of a large Texas farm, pleaded guilty of the poisoning death of a federally protected bald eagle. He was sentenced to one year of probation after entering the plea Wednesday and was ordered to pay nearly $12,000 in restitution to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Our client has accepted responsibility for inadvertently causing the death of an eagle, while trying to protect his crops and his ability to make a living as farmer,” attorney Zachary Fertitta said. “My client is an ardent Patriot and would never purposely harm any symbol of American freedom.” His case involved the death of the bald eagle on his farm in 2018.

Cornelius admitted that he mixed approximately 30 pounds of corn with Bidrin 8, a restricted-use pesticide, and spread it over his fields to “get rid of pesky birds.”

“He acknowledged seeing dead birds and several dead hogs in the area after he spread the poison,” the court papers said. “Under the supervision of the agents, Cornelius removed the remaining poisoned corn from the fields.” The court papers added that a lab analysis confirmed the bald eagle's death by organophosphate poisoning.

The bald eagle is no longer an endangered species but has remained protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. “This law makes it a crime to kill, possess, sell, transport, export or import, any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless specifically allowed by permit,” said Victoria Advocate.

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