A Northern California man has plead guilty of poaching more than 150 protected birds in Lassen County and has been sentenced to 90 days in jail. The man sentenced in the case, 68-year-old Richard Parker of Standish, has also been ordered to pay $75,000 in fines.
The case began in October of 2018, when Game Warden Todd Kinnard followed an anonymous tip by visiting 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 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.
It was the largest poaching case in the history of California.
“We are pleased to work with the California Attorney General’s Office, as well as CDFW’s Office of General Counsel, to put this egregious poacher out of business,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The case came together as a result of collaboration of our local wildlife officers and laboratory and wildlife biology staff from the state and federal governments.”
“Poaching is not a game, it’s a serious crime,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Richard Parker willfully and egregiously disregarded California law to kill protected wildlife, including hawks. To anyone who breaks our laws for illegal sport, know that we will prosecute and hold you accountable.”
Officials are unsure exactly why the man chose to kill the animals, only to let them rot on his property, but they cite “sport” as the most likely scenario. Most of the birds found were red-tailed hawks, and there was at least one owl and one ferruginous hawk rarely seen in NorCal.
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.