Did you know that you can be fined for harming an animal on the endangered species list? Many people have heard the “$10,000-per-eagle” rumor, which is actually true – but how do they even determine the value of a bald eagle, let alone the rest of the wildlife that roams our great state?
Wisconsin’s State-Protected Species
Some wildlife is considered federally protected, such as the bald eagle. Other animals are state-protected, including ermine, black bears and bobcats. And those types of animals are what a Wisconsin man was found guilty of poisoning.
He didn’t poison those species intentionally, though. He suspected that natural predators were eating the game that his family was trying to raise on his property, so he tainted a deer carcass, dead beaver and pieces of processed meat with a chemical called Carbofuran, placing it throughout his property. In addition to the tainted meat, he put out a coffee can filled with antifreeze. From there, he waited until predators took the bait.
And they did.
The unfortunate wildlife that consumed the poison included a total of three bald eagles, a black bear, a hawk, a weasel and five coyotes.
Paying for Harming Wisconsin Wildlife
When officials determine how much someone will be fined for harming wildlife, they take several things into consideration (in addition to the cleanup fees, in this case, which totaled $42,000 to remove the poison and contaminated carcasses).
To value an animal, the state considers:
- The cost of replacing the animal in the wild. In the case of the bald eagles, for example, an eagle chick isn’t a replacement; a 16-year-old eagle that can reproduce is.
- The cost of rehabilitating an animal that doesn’t die and returning it to the wild.
- The animal’s market value if it is legal to buy and sell that type of animal, such as it is for falcons and some other birds of prey.
The man accepted a plea bargain, which ultimately included a $30,000 fine for himself and a $10,000 fine for his son.
What do you think of paying for harming or killing wildlife? Are the penalties severe enough, or are they too tough? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.