Smithfield man pleads guilty to killing bald eagle

ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WVEC) -- A Smithfield man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to shooting and then running over a bald eagle, killing the animal.

In his plea agreement, 62-year-old Allen Thacker said he became angry that the eagle had been hunting and taking fish from a pond on his property. Thacker said he first tried scaring the bird away with a warning shot, but when that didn't work, he shot the eagle with a rifle.

Prosecutors say that according to a necropsy, the gunshot only injured the eagle, and it was killed after Thacker ran over it with an all-terrain vehicle.  

A woman who said she witnessed the killing previously told 13News Now she saw him driving in circles, running it over "three or four" times and then dragging it into the woods.

Thacker initially denied the allegation, but fully admitted to shooting the bird and then running it over in Tuesday's guilty plea. He faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced on October 23.

Killing a bald eagle is a violation of the federal Bald ad Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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