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Man charged with killing bald eagle, officials say

September 07, 2000

Man charged with killing bald eagle, officials say



HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County man has been charged with killing an immature bald eagle earlier this summer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday at a press conference.

Lee A. Covert, 32, of Fort Loudon, Pa., has been charged with violating the federal Eagle Protection Act and a state charge of unlawful taking and possession of a protected bird, according to the state Game Commission.

A game commission news release said Covert faces a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

The state charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine, according to the commission.

The young eagle, which had not yet developed the distinctive white head and tail feathers of an adult, was found dead on the property of the Mt. Parnell Fisheries, 1574 Fort Loudon Road, in Peters Township on June 25. The eagle had been shot with a small caliber firearm and its talons removed, according to the Game Commission.

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"Information that helped crack this case came from two confidential informants who saw a news story about the eagle killing on television," State Wildlife Conservation Officer Kevin Mountz was quoted as saying in the commission news release.

Mountz, other Game Commission officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent William Anderson conducted more than 50 interviews in four states after the dead eagle was discovered.

The federal charge against Covert was filed Wednesday. Game Commission Southcentral Region Information and Education Supervisor Don Garner said Covert's case has been referred to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The commission news release said the two unidentified informants could share in up to $7,750 offered by the Game Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mt. Parnell Fisheries, Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers and five private conservation groups.

The commission said there are 49 known nesting eagle pairs in Pennsylvania, led by Crawford County with 14. Those pairs produced 58 eaglets in the past year.

The bald eagle, which does not develop its white feathers until the age of 4, is on Pennsylvania's endangered species list.

There are approximately 5,700 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the continental United States, according to the commission.

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