After following an anonymous tip, Game Warden Todd Kinnard visited an 80-acre property in the Lassen County town of Standon, and quickly noticed multiple dead hawks on the property. They returned the following week, on March 11, with a warrant and after searching the property, they found a very grisly scene.
The property was littered with over a 126 dead hawks and two rotting bobcat corpses, along with a stuffed mountain lion in the house. Many of the birds on the property are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and it has been illegal to hunt mountain lions since 1991.
The owner of the property, 67-year-old Richard Parker, was taken into custody and booked under suspicion of multiple wildlife charges. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine per each dead raptor and $10,000 for the cougar.
It was the largest poaching case in the history of California.
Officials are unsure why the man chose to kill the animals, only to let them rot on his property. Most of the birds found were red-tailed hawks, and there was at least one owl and one ferruginous hawk rarely seen in NorCal.
“We don’t really have an answer,” said Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s pretty staggering in its numbers, and that’s certainly the question that everybody is asking.”
Raptors play a critical role in the Lassen ecosystem, keeping rodent populations under control. With nearly 130 raptors taken out of the ecosystem, controlling the rodent population will certainly be a problem for years to come.
We’re not sure why this man chose to go on a killing spree, nor are we going to speculate, but it’s important to alert any wildlife officials of any suspicious activity in order to catch poachers. If you see any activity that appears to be poaching, please call the states CalTIP poaching line.