Outdoors

Montana Rancher Admits Illegal Pesticide Killed Bald Eagle

Rancher was trying to poison coyotes but killed an eagle

BILLINGS — An eastern Montana rancher has pleaded guilty after his efforts to poison coyotes killed a bald eagle.

The Billings Gazette reports 66-year-old Dale Duwayne Buerkle of Plevna pleaded guilty Tuesday to the unlawful taking of a bald eagle during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Billings.

Prosecutors say Buerkle injected the pesticide carbofuran into calf carcasses to poison coyotes, however a bald eagle and a hawk also apparently ate from the carcasses and were poisoned in March and April of 2016. A state game warden also found three dead coyotes.

Court records say toxicology tests on all the carcasses were positive for carbofuran.

A plea agreement recommends a probationary sentence and that two charges, including unlawful use of a registered pesticide, be dismissed when Buerkle is sentenced on Nov. 16.

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