BAY CITY, Texas - The owner of a large Texas farm pleaded guilty this past week to a misdemeanor in the poisoning death of a federally protected bald eagle.
Leonard Cornelius, 35, of Bay City, was sentenced to one year of probation after entering the plea Wednesday before a judge in Corpus Christi Federal Court.
He was also ordered to pay nearly $12,000 in restitution to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, KIII-TV reported.
Cornelius faced up to a year in jail.
"Our client has accepted responsibility for inadvertently causing the death of an eagle, while trying to protect his crops and his ability to make a living as farmer," attorney Zachary Fertitta told Fox News. "My client is an ardent Patriot and would never purposely harm any symbol of American freedom."
The case against him involved the death of the bald eagle on his farm in 2018.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents had responded and approached Cornelius who admitted mixing approximately 30 pounds of corn with Bidrin 8, a restricted-use pesticide, and spreading it over his fields to get rid of pesky birds, court records showed.
"He acknowledged seeing dead birds and several dead hogs in the area after he spread the poison," the court papers added.
"Under the supervision of the agents, Cornelius removed the remaining poisoned corn from the fields."
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A lab analysis confirmed the bald eagle's death by organophosphate poisoning, the court papers said.
The bald eagle no longer has been an endangered species but has remained protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
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