About two weeks after a man turned himself in to police for allegedly killing a bald eagle, the suspect’s identity has been revealed.
The alleged poacher is Rodney Thomas, 50, whose son, Rodney Thomas II, is a safety for the Indianapolis Colts.
The alleged shooting occurred on May 12 outside Pittsburgh when residents found one of two local adult bald eagles dead in a field.
“We are devastated that this is happening, and we don’t understand why anyone would do this,” resident Linda Carnevali told Fox News Digital earlier this month.
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The eagle pair had been in the area for nearly two decades, he said, mostly together, except when they were protecting their nests or newborn harriers. Two harriers recently hatched in the nest, residents said.
Within days of the poaching, the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission said in a statement that clues had led investigators to the suspect, who «admitted to having all aspects of the crime.
«We believe the suspect will face appropriate state and/or federal charges in due course once ongoing investigations conclude,» Mount Pleasant Township said. Police Chief Matthew Tharp saying.
Bald eagles are considered one of the nation’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories, and populations have rebounded in the US after they were first placed on the endangered species list.
When they went from endangered to protected, the state penalty for killing an eagle in Pennsylvania was lowered to a summary violation fine of up to $200.
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The Pennsylvania State Senate recently passed a bill to increase the fine to $2,000 in an effort to discourage poaching.
The federal penalty for poaching a bald eagle can include a fine of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison for the first offense, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Thomas was a seventh-round pick out of Yale last year to Indianapolis. He appeared in all 17 games last year, playing 63% of the snaps on defense and intercepting four passes.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Jordan Early contributed to this report.