The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Wednesday that according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office, 23-year-old Benjamin Tyler Wallace pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen.
The bald eagle was found shot dead in northern Itawamba County on Dec. 2, by another hunter who witnessed the incident and reported it to authorities.
Wallace was placed on probation for one year and is prohibited during that time from hunting or being present at any hunting camp during any open hunting season. He also had to forfeit his boat, trailer and two guns.
The American bald eagle is no longer listed among endangered species but it remains federally-protected due to their relatively low population numbers and their symbolic status.
“That’s our national bird, a beautiful, majestic animal and it’s against the law to shoot one,” said Jim Walker with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Although the American bald eagle can be found throughout the lower 48 states, Mississippi’s bald eagle population is among the most shallow.
According to information gathered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were a total of 31 breeding pairs of bald eagles in Mississippi as of 2006, the last year the survey was conducted. That same year, Alabama had 71 mating pairs; Tennessee had 120.