A Glouster man has been sentenced to two years probation for killing a bird.
The man was sentenced in the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio on Thursday after he pleaded no contest to unlawfully killing a migratory bird. By entering a no contest plea, the man accepted conviction for the crime without admitting to guilt.
According to court documents, two birdwatchers saw the man shoot an osprey over a pond on his family’s property. They said he pulled the bird from the lake with fishing line and then bludgeoned it to death.
The two birdwatchers were watching him from a neighboring property with binoculars. He hid the bird’s body in the woods, then approached the property line and “threateningly stared down the two bird-watchers, moving both arms in the air in a defiant signal to the witnesses,” according to court documents.
The birdwatchers alerted authorities through a tip line, and two wildlife investigators from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources came to the man’s property. There they found a freshly-fired shotgun near the pond and the body of a dead osprey in a nearby spring, according to court documents.
Both the man and his family told investigators they had not heard any gunshots that day, which prosecutors argued was a lie.
While investigators searched for the dead bird, the man’s father approached the birdwatchers’ cabin in a four-wheeler, screamed obscenities and told one of the birdwatchers he had “better watch (him)self up there in the woods in the morning,” according to court documents. The birdwatcher fled the property and filed a report with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.
When investigators searched the man’s house, they found him hiding between two beds after his mother had said no one else was home, according to court documents. An agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services stated in a court filing that the house was filled with marijuana smoke because the man had seen them approaching and torched a large amount of marijuana in a wood stove.
A veterinarian told investigators the osprey had shotgun pellets inside it that matched ammunition the man owned, but that the cause of its death was blunt force trauma to the head.
The man’s defense attorney argued that bludgeoning the bird was an appropriate and possibly merciful way to kill it because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources itself had bludgeoned to death 46 geese that had become a nuisance on the beach at Strouds Run State Park over the summer.
In addition to serving his probation, the man will have to pay $500 in restitution and forfeit his hunting license.
Correction: A previous version of this report misstated the name of the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.