News and Press Releases

Barnesville, Minnesota Man Sentenced for Trapping Bald Eagle

September 10, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Sept. 10, 2012, Aaron J. Reiling, 24, of Barnesville, Minn., was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Alice Senechal on a charge of Taking and Trapping a Bald Eagle in violation of the Federal Eagle Act. Reiling pleaded guilty to the charge on June 21, 2012.

Magistrate Senechal sentenced Reiling to one year of probation with the loss of hunting and trapping privileges in the United States during the period of probation. Reiling was ordered to pay a $1,000.00 fine and make a community service payment in the amount of $4,000.00 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to benefit eagles in North Dakota. A $25.00 special assessment was also ordered to be paid immediately.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Act prohibits the taking, killing, or trapping of eagles. The charge is a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $100,000.00. On Dec. 24, 2011, a North Dakota game warden responded to a report that an eagle was caught in “something” east of Hillsboro, North Dakota. The warden found an adult bald eagle that had a leg caught in a Duke #4 coil spring trap which was staked to the ground. A deer carcass had been placed within one foot of the trap. The deer carcass was exposed. It is a violation of North Dakota law to place a trap within 25 feet of an exposed bait (North Dakota Century Code, Section 20.1-08-01).

Reiling admitted that he was trapping without a valid non-resident trapping license. He also trespassed on land he did not have permission to enter, set the trap that caught the bald eagle, and placed the dead deer carcass next to the trap.

The bald eagle was freed from the trap and transported to the Dakota Zoo for care and treatment of its injuries. On Jan. 14, 2012, staff from the Dakota Zoo euthanized the bald eagle since the foot was no longer receiving blood flow to survive.

On Jan. 17, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took custody of the dead bald eagle.

The case was investigated by the N.D. Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Hayden prosecuted the case.

Individuals who set traps are reminded and warned that setting exposed baits next to trap sets is illegal and attracts eagles and other raptores. Moreover, pole trapping is an illegal trapping method that attracts raptores and migratory birds. Pole trapping is the setting of leg hold traps on top of fence posts in an attempt to kill eagles, hawks and owls. Federal authorities will continue to prosecute offenders who use these illegal trapping methods to kill raptores.



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