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Louisiana Man Convicted for Killing an American Bald Eagle Gets 5 years in Prison, $50,000 Fine


February 14, 2006

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291

On Monday, Feb. 13, 2006, a two-year joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency the concluded with the sentencing of Alfred Craft of West Monroe, Louisiana, for the killing of an American Bald Eagle.

"This excellent investigation involved hundred of hours of work by the U. S. Attorney's Office, Criminal Investigators of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wildlife Officers and Arkansas State Plant Board Inspectors." said Robert T. Oliveri, Resident Agent in Charge of Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “U. S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright sent a clear message that the indiscriminate killing of wildlife by the use of poison and tampering with witnesses in an attempt to conceal the crime will not be tolerated in Arkansas.”

The investigation began on February 10, 2004. Arkansas Game and Fish Officers received information about a possible wildlife poisoning on Craft 's Izard County, Arkansas farm. The officers investigated and found several dead animals, including vultures. They reported this information to Special Agent Kevin Wood of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Little Rock. Special Agent Wood and the other investigators obtained and executed a search warrant the next day and located deer and duck carcasses and sardines, all three laced with Temik in order to poison meat-eating predators such as the eagle and vultures.

After sending the Bald Eagle remains to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensic Laboratory, Forensic Scientists determined that the deadly agricultural pesticide named Temik was found in the stomach of the bald eagle. Temik is a powerful poison that is normally used on agricultural fields and crops such as rice, corn and citrus to kill insects. Temik is extremely toxic to birds and mammals and is so dangerous that its use is restricted by law.

On August 5, 2004 a Federal Grand Jury indicted Craft on seven counts which included violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Federal, Insecticide and Fungicide and Rodenticide Act as well as charges of tampering with a federal witness. On March 8, 2005, Craft pled guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Eagle Protection Act but pled not guilty to charges of violating the Federal, Insecticide and Fungicide and Rodenticide Act as well as to three counts of witness tampering. On July 14, 2005, after a lengthy trial before a federal jury, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff LaVicka, Craft was convicted of witness tampering. Rather than being released on bond to await sentencing U. S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright viewed Craft as a danger and ordered him to be detained in jail until sentencing.

On February 13, 2006, Craft was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison, fined $50,000.00, ordered to pay $11,000.00 restitution to the State of Arkansas and sentenced to pay the $23,000.00 per year cost to the taxpayer for his incarceration.

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