South Jersey Man Admits Shooting Four Species Of Protected Hawks In His Residential Neighborhood
NEWARK, N.J. - A Somers Point, New Jersey man admitted today to killing, or attempting to kill, four different species of hawks protected by federal law, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Robert Losasso, 69, pleaded guilty today to six counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty act for shooting the birds from his home. He entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court.
Losasso admitted that he fatally shot or attempted to shoot red-tailed, sharp-shinned, red-shouldered and Cooper’s hawks on several occasions. These species are among the tens of thousands of birds of prey that migrate every year from Canada along the Atlantic Flyway through New Jersey.
Losasso also admitted that he didn’t have any permit to shoot the birds.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a statute that was enacted in 1918 and implements in the United States protections afforded migratory birds under several international conventions to which the United States is a party. Breeding populations of red-shouldered hawks are listed as endangered on the State of New Jersey’s Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list. Sharp-shinned hawks and populations of Cooper’s hawks also have special protections under New Jersey state law.
The charges to which Losasso pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of six months in prison and a maximum fine equal to the greatest of $15,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offenses. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Dec. 15, 2014.
In his plea agreement, Losasso also agreed to pay more than $4,000 in restitution to the wildlife rehabilitation centers that incurred losses treating or euthanizing hawks injured as a result of his conduct.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Carmine Sabia, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Law Enforcement, and the Somers Point Police Department for their roles in the case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen P. O’Leary of the U.S. Attorney's Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Assistant Federal Public Defender Linda Foster Esq., Newark