STANDISH, California — Wildlife officials have uncovered a serial killer who they say is responsible for the shooting deaths of more than 130 hawks and other protected birds of prey.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife says it received an anonymous tip from a someone who had witnessed a man shooting a hawk out of the sky near Standish, a small town o the Nevada border.
A survey of the area turned up the carcasses of nine dead raptors on the grounds of a ranch. Investigators then got a search warrant for the property where they found an additional 126 bird carcassess.
Property owner Richard Parker, 67, was placed under arrest and charged with multiple crimes against wildlife and protected species charges.
Officials say the birds were mostly red tail hawks, but there were also owls and an uncommon, migratory ferruginous hawk. They also found a taxidermied mountain lion and other migratory birds that they believe were illegally taken.
“Poaching crimes of this egregious nature against raptors is unprecedented in California,” said David Bess, deputy director of the Department of Fish & Wildlife. “The local raptor population may take years to recover from these killings.”
Parker faces up to six months in jail if convicted and fines that could amount to $5,000 per dead bird.