A 68-year-old man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after being convicted in the “largest raptor poaching case in known California history” following the discovery of more than 150 dead birds and other wildlife on his Lassen County property, authorities announced last Friday.
In addition to the jail sentence, Richard Parker was fined $75,000 and given five years of probation, according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The court also ordered the destruction of the two firearms used in the killings, the release stated.
Parker’s sentencing came after he pleaded guilty in a case that stemmed from the discovery of dozens of deceased animals over his 80-acre property last year, according to officials with the agency.
The case began in March 2018 when wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County received a tip regarding a man killing a hawk near the town of Standish, the release read.
That led authorities to surveil the suspect before they visited his private property, where nine dead raptors were located.
After obtaining a search warrant, wildlife officers returned to the rural property where they located 150 carcasses of protected birds and other dead wildlife, including two bobcats and a taxidermic mountain lion, according to the release.
Spent rifle casings were also found, authorities added.
The majority of the birds killed were found to be red-tailed hawks, though officials noted they also discovered several other species of hawk, as well as nongame birds and an owl.
“The sheer number of birds poached on the 80-acre property will undoubtedly affect the raptor population in the immediate area,” fish and wildlife officials said when they announced Parker’s arrest.
A cause of death was discovered by wildlife forensic scientists, who necropsied 159 samples. The resulting 400-page necropsy was a significant part in the successful prosecution of the case, according to authorities.
“Poaching is not a game, it’s a serious crime,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Richard Parker willfully and egregiously disregarded California law to kill protected wildlife, including hawks. To anyone who breaks our laws for illegal sport, know that we will prosecute and hold you accountable.”