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Two Treasure Valley men sentenced after shooting golden eagle

The men were sentenced to two years of probation, 15 hours of community service and received two-year bans from hunting and possessing firearms.
Credit: KTVB
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

BOISE, Idaho — Two Treasure Valley men were charged with one count of unlawful taking a golden eagle and one count of unlawful taking a migratory bird of prey, the United States Department of Justice announced Wednesday. 

20-year-old Colten R. Ferdinand of Boise and 23-year-old Wyatt G. Noe of Eagle shot and killed a golden eagle in April 2021, according to court records.

The two men also shot and killed five red-tailed hawks in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Ferdinand and Noe both pleaded guilty to taking the golden eagle in March. 

Ferdinand and Noe were sentenced to two years of probation and 15 hours of wildlife conservation community service. They also received a two-year hunting ban and two-year ban from possessing firearms. 

"The wonton killing of migratory birds, including the majestic golden eagle and the red-tailed hawk is senseless," U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. said. "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."

Both men were ordered to forfeit their rifles and ammunition. Noe was also ordered to forfeit his pistol and pay $3,000 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG). Ferdinand must pay $3,800 in restitution to IDFG and forfeit his two Streamlight flashlights. 

Officials were notified of multiple dead birds of prey under a power line in March 2021 in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, parallel to Big Baja Road.

The birds included a red tail, ferruginous and rough-legged hawks, as well as golden eagles. The hawks are all protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Golden eagles are protected under the Bald Eagle Act of 1940. 

An investigation began March 2021 by IDFG, the United States Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security. A Boise State graduate research assistant was interviewed and told officers several dead raptors were located in the area. 

Each of the raptors had been shot, with two suffering bullet exit wounds. One surviving raptor was taken to a veterinarian, but was later euthanatized. Ammunition casings and nine additional dead raptors were located March 20, 2021. 

Ferdinand and Noe were seen driving on Big Baja Road on April 10, 2021 as law enforcement conducted surveillance in the area. According to the Department of Justice, the two men were seen shooting at raptors with "powerful hand-held lights."

Both men admitted to shooting the raptors. A recently-killed golden eagle and five red-tailed hawks, including a juvenile hawk, were found in the area. 

"These defendants knowingly shot and killed migratory birds and a golden eagle, which are protected under state and federal laws," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director of the Office of Law Enforcement, Edward Grace said. "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."

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