Long Island Man Who Captured and Killed Federally Protected Hawks in Stamford is Sentenced
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that THOMAS KAPUSTA, 63, of Westbury, N.Y., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to one year of probation for killing red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks. Judge Chatigny also ordered KAPUSTA to pay a $5,500 fine and perform 90 hours of community service at a local animal shelter.
Red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks are birds of prey, also known as raptors, and consume pigeons as part of their natural diet. These hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
According to court documents and statements made in court, KAPUSTA and Adam Boguski were racing pigeon enthusiasts who constructed and maintained a pigeon coop at 330 Weed Avenue in Stamford. KAPUSTA and Boguski kept a large number of racing pigeons at this coop, and regularly let them fly outside the coop for exercise. Because KAPUSTA and Boguski viewed these hawks as a threat to their pigeons, they systematically captured the hawks in a trap specifically designed to capture birds of prey, shot and killed them in the trap, and disposed of their carcasses.
Knowing that he was violating the law by capturing and killing the hawks, KAPUSTA instructed Boguski to refer to the hawk trap as a “breeding cage” if law enforcement ever inquired.
On February 17, 2016, KAPUSTA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks, and four counts of taking, capturing and killing red-tailed hawks or Cooper’s hawks. In pleading guilty he admitted that he killed red-tailed hawks on September 8 and October 14, 2015, and Cooper’s hawks on September 2 and October 21, 2015.
On August 8, 2016, Boguski, of Stamford, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks, and two counts of taking, capturing and killing Cooper’s hawks. In pleading guilty he admitted that he killed Cooper’s hawks on September 27, 2015 and October 17, 2015. He awaits sentencing.
Judge Chatigny ordered several special conditions of KAPUSTA’s probation that restrict his ability to engage in his racing pigeon hobby, including allowing his pigeon coop in Stamford to be randomly inspected by federal and state environmental authorities.
This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, and the Environmental Conservation Police of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the assistance of the Stamford Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen.