Two Men Sentenced for the Unlawful Taking of a Golden Eagle
According to court records, Colten R. Ferdinand, 20, of Boise, Idaho, and Wyatt G. Noe, 23, of Eagle, Idaho, were each charged by Information with one count of unlawful taking a golden eagle without permission and one count of unlawful taking a migratory bird of prey without permission. On April 10, 2021, they entered the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and shot and killed a golden eagle and shot and killed five red-tailed hawks. Both Ferdinand and Wyatt pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful taking of a golden eagle on March 24, 2022.
United States Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale sentenced Ferdinand and Wyatt to two years of probation and 15 hours of community service related to wildlife conservation. Further, Judge Dale ordered a two-year hunting ban and a two-year ban from possessing firearms. Noe was ordered to forfeit his rifle, pistol and ammunition; and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the Idaho Fish and Game Department. Ferdinand was ordered to forfeit his rifle, ammunition, and two Streamlight flashlights and was ordered to pay $3,800 in restitution to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security, participated in a joint investigation that began in March of 2021, after law enforcement was notified of multiple birds of prey, to include red tail, ferruginous, and rough-legged hawks, and golden eagles, found dead under the power line that paralleled the Big Baja Road in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. All of those hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and golden eagles are protected under the Bald Eagle Act of 1940.
As part of the investigation, officers interviewed a Boise State Graduate Research Assistant regarding the raptor shootings. The research assistant stated there was a history of raptors being killed in that area. On March 13 and 14, 2021, the research assistant reported that several dead raptors were located in the conservation area.
All of the raptors collected showed evidence of being shot, and two raptors suffered bullet exit wounds. One raptor that survived the shooting was taken to a veterinarian where it was later euthanatized. On March 20, 2021, nine additional dead raptors were located, along with ammunition casings.
Law enforcement was conducting surveillance in the area on April 10, 2021, and observed Ferdinand and Wyatt driving along Big Baja Road with powerful hand-held lights and watched as they shot at raptors. When approached by law enforcement, both Ferdinand and Noe admitted to shooting at the raptors. A search of the area discovered a freshly killed golden eagle and five freshly killed red-tailed hawks, to include one juvenile hawk.
“The wonton killing of migratory birds, including the majestic golden eagle and the red-tailed hawk is senseless,” said U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. “We take our mission to support fish and game laws very seriously, as do our partners in federal, state, and local law enforcement and land management. The slaughter of migratory birds will not be tolerated,” he concluded.
“These defendants knowingly shot and killed migratory birds and a golden eagle, which are protected under state and federal laws,” said Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director of the Office of Law Enforcement. “We thank the U.S. Department of Justice, the Idaho Fish and Game Department, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for their work on this investigation.”
U.S. Attorney Gonzalez made the announcement and commended the cooperative efforts of the Idaho Fish and Game Department, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security, which led to charges.