LEXINGTON, KY - A Breathitt County man admitted in federal court yesterday that he illegally sold three federally protected birds.
Danny Gayheart, 32, of Noctor, Ky., pleaded guilty to the unlawful sale of a federally protected bird species.
Gayheart admitted that he sold three Red Tail Hawks for $50.00 each to an undercover agent in Winchester, KY., in March of 2011.
According to his plea agreement, Gayheart had used a steel trap to capture the birds. One bird had an injured foot and another suffered a broken leg and had to be euthanized. Gayheart agreed to pay $1,655.50 in restitution which represents the cost of rehabilitating the two surviving birds and releasing them back into the wild.
The Red Tailed Hawk is a federally protected bird species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources jointly made the announcement today.
The investigation was conducted by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West.
Gayheart will appear for sentencing on February 13, 2012. He faces a maximum of two years in prison. However, the court must consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute which governs the imposition of sentences before imposing a sentence.