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CDFW: Lassen man arrested in largest raptor poaching case in CA history

Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that a Lassen County man, identified as Richard Parker, 67, has been arrested after they uncovered what is likely the largest raptor poaching case in known California history.

Officials said wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County received an anonymous tip from someone who reportedly witnessed a man killing a hawk near the town of Standish. The local wildlife officer conducted surveillance and then visited the property where he discovered nine dead raptors, which was enough evidence to obtain a search warrant.

The officer then returned to the property on March 11 with additional officers and a CDFW K-9 to search the 80-acre property. Officials said the search revealed an extraordinary number of raptor carcasses, other dead birds and wildlife and spent rifle casings indicating more than 140 potential state and/or federal violations.

In addition to the original nine birds, officers found 126 dead raptors, all in various states of decay. Most of the birds were red tail hawks but at least one dead owl was found, as well as an uncommon migratory ferruginous hawk. Officers also found two dead bobcats, one taxidermied mountain lion, and other nongame birds, all suspected of being unlawfully taken.

Parker was booked into the Lassen County Jail on multiple charges including taking birds of prey, taking migratory nongame birds as designated by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, taking other nongame birds, and possession of wildlife that was unlawfully taken. Additional charges may be added as the investigation continues.

Officials said each potential violation is a misdemeanor poaching crime at the state level, with maximum penalties of six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine per each raptor. Unlawfully taking a mountain lion could result in up to a $10,000 penalty. Each potential federal crime could result in additional penalties.

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