STAMFORD, Conn. -- A Long Island man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Hartford federal court to capturing and killing federally protected red-tailed hawks and Cooper's hawks at a Stamford home, announced Deirdre Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Thomas Kapusta, 63, of Westbury, admitted he and another individual were racing pigeon enthusiasts who constructed and maintained a pigeon coop on Weed Avenue in Stamford. Kapusta and his associate kept a large number of racing pigeons at the coop, and regularly let them fly outside the coop for exercise. Because the two men viewed the hawks as a threat to their pigeons, they captured the hawks in a trap and shot and killed them in the trap.
Kapusta pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks and four counts of taking, capturing and killing red-tailed hawks or Cooper’s hawks.
“We greatly appreciate our state and local partners in law enforcement, and the support of the U.S. Attorney's Office in prosecuting those who violate federal wildlife laws and holding them accountable for their actions,” said Honora Gordon, special agent in charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to court documents, red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks are birds of prey, also known as raptors, and consume pigeons as part of their natural diet. The hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Kapusta admitted he and his associate killed red-tailed hawks Sept. 8 and Oct. 14, 2015, and Cooper’s hawks Sept. 2 and Oct. 21, 2015.
Kapusta is scheduled to be sentenced May 13 by U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 months and a fine of up to $75,000.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.