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Rancher pleads guilty to poisoning bald eagles

Posted at 10:05 AM, Sep 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-01 13:17:14-04
This eagle died after eating poison in the San Luis Valley in 2017. Photo Courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife

MONTE VISTA- A San Luis Valley rancher has pleaded guilty to poisoning numerous animals- including 5 bald eagles.

In April, 77-year-old John L. Divine paid $8,283.50 in fines related to poisoning the animals.

He’s charged with 10 misdemeanors of illegal take of wildlife and using poisons to kill wildlife

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in total, Divine killed five bald eagles, a coyote, a fox, magpies, crows and ravens.

He reportedly told officers he put out the poison because coyotes were killing his sheep.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife began their investigation in January last year, when a tip lead wildlife officers to a culvert with sheep parts that appeared covered in poison and several dead magpies nearby.

“It was obvious that this was an intentional act,” said CPW Wildlife Officer Jeremy Gallegos, in a news released issued by Parks and Wildlife.

Gallegos set up a game camera in the area, and a few days later they saw a white pick up truck, and a man later identified as Divine carrying what looked like a sheep’s liver.

“His actions caused the death of multiple species of wildlife, including five bald eagles, a coyote, a fox, magpies, crows and ravens,” said CPW Wildlife Officer Jeremy Gallegos. “Putting out poison is dangerous and can be deadly for wildlife, domestic animals and people.”

Divine said he was trying to stop the coyotes and that he’d put anti-freeze on the sheep.

He also said he’d only baited one spot and then he led the officers there.

That area was not the same location that Gallegos had initially investigated.

Divine eventually admitted to baiting at another location.