I’m not quite sure what to make of this local story: “Four people are charged for their alleged involvement in killing two bald eagles.”
The details of the alleged crimes are as follows: “Prosecutors say two teenagers shot the eagles in the Muskegon State Game Area with a .22 caliber rifle in April 2004 and then chopped them up with a hatchet.” Since the bald eagle, one of the nation’s revered symbols, is an endangered animal, it is protected by both state and federal laws.
Given the law of the land (the Endangered Species Act), it makes some sense that those involved would be prosecuted for illegal killings of protected animals. But here’s the strange thing: two of the alleged participants are “charged with one count of animal cruelty, which is a four-year felony.” Unless I’m misunderstanding something, the eagles were “chopped…up with a hatchet” after they were killed. How can you be cruel to something after it’s already dead?
And just in case you were wondering which is considered more severe, the two men “are also facing one count each of killing a bald eagle, which is a 90-day misdemeanor.”
It’s hard for me to fathom why anyone would shoot and slaughter bald eagles, but that perversity is almost matched by the irrationality of the possible sentences.