Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to poisoning bald eagles

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to poisoning and killing bald eagles and hawks near his Steuben County sheep farm.

William Wentling, 68, of Rothville, PA, was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $3,500 fine for a violation of the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act.

According to the U.S. assistant attorney who handled the case, the state DEC received a report of a dead bald eagle in a field on Thompson Road in Addison, NY in March 2015. The carcass was discovered adjacent to Wentling’s sheep farm.

Further investigation revealed that Wentling mailed himself a container of Furadan, a restricted-use pesticide known to be highly toxic to wildlife, in May 2014. In March 2015, Wentling directed his employees to pour Furadan over sheep carcasses on his farm for the purpose of controlling birds of prey. Two bald eagles, two red-tailed hawks, and a rough-legged hawk died after ingesting the Furadan-laced sheep. One of the birds was an adult female bald eagle, who was incubating eggs at the time of her death. Wentling did not have permits to take any of the birds, alive or dead.

In the early 1900’s, New York State was home to more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and was a wintering ground for several hundred more. However, by 1960, New York State had only one known active bald eagle nest remaining. Beginning in 1976, and continuing until 1988, the NYS-DEC Bald Eagle Program collected 198 nesting bald eagles from other parts of the United States, brought them to New York State, and then hand-reared them to independence. Today, there are more than 300 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state.

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