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 Golden Eagle Protection Act when he left poison meat out on his property last year.

Canfield was trying to kill coyotes on his property, but started what experts call a deadly cycle.

Tanya Lowe from the Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora says there has 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,” Lowe explained.

Someone driving by on an ATV found the carcasses on the Canfield farm, and took pictures.

Lowe says the poisoning is a direct violation of the act.

“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,” Lowe said.

Lowe said 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,” Lowe said. “It’s something that is not just a problem here, but everywhere.”

The Hawk Creek Wildlife Center has seen firsthand the frustrating 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,” Lowe said.

Lowe said 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,” Lowe said.

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