A man from Rhode Island is charged with federal offenses in an uncommon case that highlights the fine line between wildlife conservation and hunting. The guy reportedly shot at, injured, and killed Red-Tailed and Cooper hawks in an attempt to protect squirrels.

United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced that Portsmouth resident Robert J. Ferreira, 64, has been charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Act forbids hunting, capturing, or killing Red-Tailed and Cooper hawks, among other migrating species, without the appropriate permission.

According to the charge documents, Ferreira shot at hawks in his backyard several times between October 1, 2018, and April 18, 2021, using a pump-action pellet air rifle. Ferreira estimated that he was shooting at between 50 and 80 hawks because he thought they posed a threat to squirrels that visited feeders on his property, according to comments he gave to an agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to reports, neighbors were prompted to go inside Ferreira’s property after hearing popping noises that were consistent with firearms. They found about eight dead and injured hawks on or near Ferreira’s property on a few different occasions.

Unauthorized shooting or killing of migratory birds is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was created to protect these birds throughout their migrations. Among the protected species are Cooper and Red-Tailed hawks.

Ferreira is currently charged with four misdemeanor counts of hunting, taking, killing, or attempting to kill migrating birds. He faces a maximum term of six months in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000 for each count if found guilty.

The case emphasizes the value of legislation protecting wildlife and the interdependence of different species within ecosystems. Ferreira may have wanted to protect squirrels, but his actions have put him in legal hot water, underscoring the need to look for both ethical and legitimate ways to deal with issues pertaining to wildlife.

Ferreira’s arraignment is set for October 12, 2023. It is important to keep in mind that, unless proven guilty in a court of law, Ferreira is assumed innocent. Assistant US Attorney Denise M. Barton is in charge of the prosecution.