ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A 59-year-old man has been sentenced for 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, a judge sentenced Craig Louis Staloch of Minnesota Lake to two years of probation and imposed numerous conditions, which include a $12,500 fine and 100 hours of community service directly related to wildlife preservation. He earlier 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.