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Wilson farmer fined for poisoning bald eagles

A Wilson farmer who killed three bald eagles when he was trying to poison coyotes on his property was fined $1,000 and sentenced Thursday to six months probation in federal court.

Kirk Canfield, 54, previously was convicted of violating the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act. In addition to the fine, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott ordered Canfield to pay $3,000 in restitution to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bald Eagle Program, which works to restore the state’s bald eagle population.

Canfield set out meat mixed with the insecticide Golden Malrin fly bait on the edge of his cornfield in August 2014 in an attempt to kill coyotes, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango.

Instead of coyotes, three juvenile bald eagles ate the contaminated meat. Their bodies were found nearby and photographed by a person riding an ATV.

Prosecutors maintained that Canfield acted with wanton disregard for the consequences of his act when he set out the poison.

A century ago, there were more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles in New York State, but by 1960 only one known active bald eagle nest remained. Thanks to conservation efforts today there are more than 170 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by special agents of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Honora Gordon and environmental conservation officers with the DEC under the direction of Capt. Frank Lauricella.