Smithfield man pleads guilty to killing bald eagle

U.S. Department of Justice logo (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — A Smithfield man accused of shooting a bald eagle and then running it over with his ATV has pleaded guilty, authorities say.

The U.S. Department of Justice Eastern District of Virginia says 62-year-old Allen H. Thacker faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 for the crime.

Authorities say Thacker shot the eagle because he was upset it had been hunting and taking fish from a pond on his property.

Court records indicate Thacker first tried to scare the bird off with a warning shot before shooting it with a .22 caliber rifle. A necropsy performed on the eagle found the gunshot wounded it, but a blunt force trauma to the bird’s head ultimately proved fatal.

Thacker initially denied it when interview by investigators. However, authorities say a witness reported having seen Thacker run over the eagle with his ATV.

Thacker fully admitted to the crime when he pleaded Tuesday. He scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 23.