The LA Times has the story on the Southern California indictments of seven men charged with numerous counts of violating the Migratory Bird Act. Their particular crime? Killing hawks. Lots and lots of hawks.
As motivation, they are all pigeon fanciers who had apparently gotten fed up with hawks feeding up on the latest spastic sports they’ve managed to breed. According to the report, a law enforcement agent infiltrated the pigeon groups to find hawk traps have been sold openly at meets, and one prominent pigeon fancier was observed approaching a trapped Cooper’s hawk on his house roof and shooting it with a pellet gun. All told, the raptor deaths attributed to the seven named people sum up over 2,000.
These folks can be fined up to $10,000 and sent to prison for up to six months. I don’t know whether that applies per raptor or in aggregate.
The sheer scope of this raptor-killing is mind-boggling. It seems doubtful that the practice is confined to SoCal, though. It is likely that more education and law enforcement effort are needed generally to get people to stop killing hawks.