Three Orangeburg Men Sentenced for Killing Hawks at South Carolina Hunting Preserve
Contact Person: Eric Klumb (843) 727-4381
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney William N. Nettles stated today that three Orangeburg men, Charles Williams, age 66, John Dantzler, age 66, and Jimmie Aiken, age 57, and Alejandro Renteria Noyola, age 56, were sentenced today by United States Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges, sitting in Charleston, South Carolina. The defendants entered guilty pleas to offenses involving the unlawful trapping and killing of migratory birds at Willcreek, a 1,790-acre tract of land in Orangeburg County owned by Willcreek LLC. Charles Williams, the registered agent for Willcreek LLC, pled guilty to 7 counts of killing Red-tailed or Cooper’s Hawks during 2013 and 2014; the remaining defendants were each named in a single count. Trapping and killing hawks without a permit is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act under Title 16, United States Code, Section 703, and carried a maximum prison term of six months and a fine of up to $15,000, or both, for each count of conviction.
Judge Hodges fined Williams $75,000, imposed 50 hours of community service at a birds-of-prey center, and banned him from hunting for a year. Aiken and Dantzler were each fined $1,000 and were also banned from hunting for a year.
Luis Santiago, Special Agent-in-Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said of today’s plea and sentencing: “This case is an excellent example of the cooperative investigative efforts between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and each agency’s strong commitment to investigate violations of wildlife laws. Migratory birds are a trust responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We greatly appreciate our state and local partners in law enforcement, and the support of the U.S. Attorney's Office in prosecuting those who violate federal wildlife laws and holding them accountable for their actions. The plea and sentencing today is a success in our collective efforts to conserve migratory birds and other wildlife.”
Mr. Nettles stated, “The statute and the indictment in this case recognize that these majestic birds-of-prey are an important link in our ecosystem. Killing these hawks in order to improve sporting conditions for weekend hunters is not only unsportsman-like, it is illegal and comes at the cost of our wildlife resources. The Court’s imposition of a substantial fine is in line with the seriousness of the offense and defendants’ cruel treatment of the birds-of-prey they killed.”
The case was investigated by agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The investigation began in November of 2013 based on a tip from the DNR Operation Game Thief Hotline and culminated with the execution of a search warrant at Willcreek on February 21, 2014. During the course of the investigation, agents seized more than thirty raptor carcasses from Willcreek.
Assistant United States Attorney Eric Klumb of the Charleston office prosecuted the case.