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Man Pleads Guilty To Destroying Pelican Nests, Killing Chicks

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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A 59-year-old man has pleaded guilty to killing and attempting to kill a large number of American white pelicans, which are protected under federal law.

In U.S. District Court in St. Paul Tuesday, Craig Louis Staloch of Minnesota Lake pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal misdemeanor.

According to the United States Attorney s Office, on May 17, 2011, farmland rented by Staloch was visited by a wildlife specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The purpose of the visit was to assess the status of an area that had been used as a nesting colony by pelicans the year before. Upon arrival, the specialist found numerous adult pelicans, many sitting on nests.

The next day, the same specialist returned with others to conduct a complete count of the pelicans at the site. However, no adult pelicans were found and broken eggs were discovered in many of the nests, appearing to have been smashed with a heavy object. Also, researchers found countless dead pelican chicks — some crushed — and other dead from abandonment or exposure.

There were 1,458 nests in the colony. More than 70 percent of the nests had been destroyed, according to the Attorney’s Office.

Staloch could face up to six months in prison as well as a fine.

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