Man Pleads Guilty to Shooting, Killing Eagle with ATV


This is a rather maddening story.

A homeowner in Smithfield, Virginia by the name of Allen Thacker was irritated when a bald eagle kept eating fish from his pond and hunting small game on his property.

So, according to court records, the 62-year-old man attempted to scare away the bird with a warning shot using his Remington .22 caliber rifle. When the bird kept coming back, Thacker shot to kill.

Except a poor shot from Thacker left the bird badly wounded, but still alive. So what did Thacker do?

He hopped on his red Yamaha ATV and drove over the bald eagle, an official national symbol of the United States.

Of course, Thacker originally denied killing the bird, but a witness testified otherwise, saying they saw Thacker circle and run over the eagle at least three or four times, then drag the bird’s body into the woods.

He would eventually plead guilty to violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He will also have to turn over his rifle to the government and pay $960, or half the value of the ATV.

All the details can be found in the press release from the Department of Justice below:

NORFOLK, Va. – A Smithfield man pleaded guilty today to killing a bald eagle, first shooting and wounding the bird, then finally running over it with his all-terrain vehicle.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Allen H. Thacker, 62, shot the bald eagle because he was upset it had been hunting and taking fish from a pond located on his property. Court records indicate Thacker first tried to scare the bird away with a warning shot. When that did not work, Thacker shot the bird with a Remington .22 caliber rifle. According to a necropsy performed on the dead eagle, Thacker’s initial shot wounded the bird, but blunt force trauma to the bird’s skull proved fatal. Though Thacker initially denied it when interviewed by investigators, a witness reported having seen Thacker drive over the bird with his all-terrain vehicle. In Court records filed with today’s guilty plea, Thacker fully admitted to shooting the bird and running it over with the all-terrain vehicle.

Thacker pleaded guilty to unlawful taking of a bald eagle, and faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine when sentenced on October 23. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Kosky is prosecuting the case.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after receiving a referral from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:17-mj-291.

Read More