News and Press Releases

Wahpeton Man Sentenced for Trapping Bald Eagle

December 19, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Dec. 19, 2012, Jay P. Schuler, Wahpeton, N.D., pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Karen Klein on a charge of taking and trapping a bald eagle in violation of the Federal Eagle Act.

Magistrate Judge Klein ordered Schuler to pay a $1,000.00 fine and make a community service payment in the amount of $6,500.00 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 a trap near Wahpeton. The warden found an adult bald eagle that had a leg caught in a spring trap which was staked to the ground. A turkey carcass had been placed near the trap. The 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).

Schuler admitted that he was trapping, set the trap that caught the bald eagle, and placed the turkey carcass next to the trap. The bald eagle was freed from the trap and transported to the Wahpeton Zoo for care and treatment of its injuries. The eagle has permanent damage to a talon but has been released to the wild.

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.

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.




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