New York farmer faces jail time for accidentally poisoning bald eagles

WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Niagara County farmer could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for accidentally poisoning and killing three bald eagles.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Kirk Canfield, 54, from Wilson admits to violating the Federal Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act when he left poison meat out on his property last year.

He was trying to kill coyotes on his property, but started what experts call a deadly cycle. Tanya Lowe from the Hawk Center in Cast Aurora says there’s been a boost in the eagle population in Western New York, with nests popping up along the Niagara River. She says there has been a resurgence here, despite a rise in violations. “The violations have always been there, whether it’s poisoning on purpose, accidental and also poaching,” she said.

Someone driving by on an ATV found the carcasses on the Canfield farm, and took pictures. Lowe says this is a direct violation of the act. She said, “It prohibits anybody without a permit from the Secretary Of The Interior from taking bald or golden eagles. This includes eggs, nests, body parts anything like that,” she said. She saio there is a big human- wildlife interaction problem; and this problem is happening not just here at home, but across the country.

“As human population continues to grow, animal population continues to shrink,” said Canfield. “It’s something that is not just a problem here, but everywhere.” The Hawk Center itself is just one example of the amount of abuse:

“We have three bald eagles, two of them were shot. You can’t really mistake an adult bald eagle for anything other than what it is,” said Lowe.  She says what happened in Wilson makes an impact on the bald eagle population as a whole. “One of the biggest misconceptions that people have, is that what one person does, doesn’t make a difference in a global scale, because it does,” she said.

WIVB reached out to Canfield for comment, but we have not heard back yet. He will appear in court for sentencing on October 2nd.

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