RHINELANDER (WAOW) – The farm where federal prosecutors say American eagles and other wildlife were indiscriminately poisoned says the man primarily responsible is no longer an officer of the company.
“We deeply regret the impacts to animals caused by the unauthorized acts and have taken proactive steps to reinforce safe and appropriate practices on the Sowinski Farms property,” President Greg Sowinski said Thursday. “Our goal is to grow quality produce in the most environmentally responsible way possible.'
Sowinski Farms is a large farm, growing mostly potatoes, in the Town of Sugar Camp in Oneida County.
In a statement, Greg Sowinski said his company “fully cooperated” with local, state and federal authorities in the investigation that led to federal charges of illegal possession of American bald eagles against Alvin Sowinski, 65, and his son Paul Sowinski, 46.
They were charged Wednesday following a probe that began in 2007 into the poisoning deaths of dozens of wildlife from tainted bait set out to kill predators of deer on the Sowinski Farms property, U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said,
The men are to return to court May 8 to enter pleas, Vaudreuil said. The maximum punishment for illegal possession of American bald eagle is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
************************************************** MADISON (WAOW) – Two northern Wisconsin farmers face federal charges of illegal possession of American bald eagles following a probe that began in 2007 into the deaths of dozens of wildlife from poisoning, U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said Wednesday.
The poisoning used baits designed to kill predators in order to improve deer hunting, Vaudreuil said.
Alvin Sowinski, 65, and his son Paul Sowinski, 46, of the Town of Sugar Camp in Oneida County were each charged with one misdemeanor count in U.S. District Court, Vaudreuil said.
According to a plea agreement reached in the case, the pair will pay $100,000 in restitution and lose all rights and privileges to hunt, fish and trap for at least five years, the prosecutor said.
The men are to return to court May 8 to enter pleas, Vaudreuil said. The maximum punishment for illegal possession of an American bald eagle is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
According to Vaudreuil, the Sowinski family owns about 8,000 acres in Oneida County, including 4,000 used for farming, mostly potatoes.
The probe into dead wildlife on the property began in May 2007, when a state Department of Natural Resources warden found a dead bald eagle, a crow, a gray squirrel and a bobcat within 100 yards of a deer carcass laced with the deadly insecticide Carbofuran, Vaudreuil said in a statement.
In early 2010, investigators found at least nine bait sites on the property with remains of beavers, whitetail deer and processed meats that were tainted with Carbofuran as a way to kill predators such as fishers, bobcats, coyotes and gray timber wolves, Vaudreuil said.
A search of the property in May 2010 found nearly 40 dead birds or animals, including two bald eagles, a black bear and a coyote, the prosecutor said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Gregory Jackson said the case was investigated by local, state and federal authorities.
“Indiscriminately targeting wildlife predators with poison to improve hunting opportunities is not only unethical it is illegal,” he said.
DNR warden Todd Schaller said the case was “disturbing” because it involved the “reckless poisoning” of wild birds and animals. “It is unconscionable and not something the citizens of this state will tolerate,” he said in a statement.
An attorney for Alvin Sowinski, Mark Cameli of Milwaukee, said the family would issue a statement later Wednesday.
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