A Beaumont, Texas teenager was fined and barred from owning firearms for the next five years earlier this month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn after the boy shot and killed two whooping cranes in the town of Nome this past January.
The judge fined the teen a total of $25,815, or $12,907.50 per bird, which was the initial amount that was set by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife code. As a result, he will be forced to pay that money in monthly installments. Once paid in full, the funds will be distributed to two nonprofit organizations—the International Crane Foundation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.
On top of this sentence, the teenager also received five years of probation and 200 hours of community service. Per the terms of his probation, he is not permitted to own any firearms, nor is he permitted to hunt or fish anywhere in the United States of America.
The whooping cranes had become quite the local attraction in the Nome area, especially on the rice and crawfish farm that they seemed to enjoy, until two of them were shot and killed using small-caliber rifle. A swift investigation led to the young man’s arrest and a quick confession. In May, he pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act.
He had initially faced up to one year in prison and a $50,000 fine per bird; however, the largely packed courtroom stated that they were content with the sentence that the judge handed down. Several also felt that it would serve as a deterrent for future cases involving similar incidents. Many of those in attendance stated that maybe it could make the next kid think twice before shooting at something without knowing the possible consequences.
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