Bush Pardons Man Who Killed Three Bald Eagles

200px-baldeaglerwpz225px-george-w-bushimages3The symbolism is perfectly exquisite. President George Bush, who has given out fewer pardons than any modern president, felt that he could not leave office without releasing Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in southeast Missouri. Bush is generally viewed as the most hostile president to environmental protections in modern times. His pardons seemed to reflect that profile with another pardon going to a hazardous waste violator who was given a mere probation sentence. I will be discussing the Bush pardons with Rachel Maddow tonight.

Collier is a real charmer. He explained that he was only trying to kill coyotes by lacing hamburger meat with pesticides — a trap that is widely denounced by environmentalists around the world and well-known to be a danger to bald eagles and other animals. Collier was appropriately convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

What is particularly galling is that Collier received a light sentence: two years probation, $10,000 in restitution. Yet Bush believed that even that was too harsh for an environmental crime.

Bush also pardoned Daniel Pue III, 64, who was sentenced more than 10 years ago for illegal dumping of hazardous waste.

He was convicted in 1996 on federal charges of illegal storage, disposal and transportation of a hazardous waste without a permit, according to court records. The waste was pentachlorophenol and creosote sludge. Once again, the sentence was light. Pue was sentenced to three years’ probation with six months’ home detention on each charge. The sentences were to run concurrently. He was also fined $1,000.

The pardons seem an almost gratuitous slap at even the most basic environmental protections. These men received probation but Bush felt that killing protected animals or dumping hazardous waste does not justify these sentences.

For the full story, click here.

17 thoughts on “Bush Pardons Man Who Killed Three Bald Eagles

  1. Mr. Smith,

    If someone runs a business (which is what a farm is) don’t they have the responsibility to learn and abide by all the regulations that apply to that business?

  2. Gyges:

    That’s the issue though, isn’t it? Did the farmer think he was entitled to use poison to take care of coyotes, or were the laws against even this that he should reasonably have been aware of. If not, and the farmer was acting within his rights, how foreseeable was it that eagles would snack on the laced meat instead of coyotes. The story indicates he was convicted for unauthorized use of a registered pesticide – so he had a legal pesticide that he used in an illegal way, but did he know the pesticide was not supposed to be used as a poison? Was such use common among farmers and tacitly accepted by rural authorities? Was the law simply applied because the case involved three dead eagles? Of course we don’t know the particulars of the case, but, for me, these questions tend to pop out from the small set of facts we do have. Your other point, that you couldn’t solve your problem with poison and expect not to be sued when a neighbor’s dog died from eating it, what if instead you had bought German Shepard to deal with your coyote problem and it killed your neighbor’s dog when the dog trespassed onto your property? Would you expect to be sued for this? While it may be true that dogs bring a element of intelligence into the picture and are often the better choice, it doesn’t mean they are always the best choice, the farmer could have lived too far away from whatever he was trying to protect from coyotes for instance.

  3. Mr. Smith,

    The law isn’t against poisoning coyotes, it’s against killing Bald Eagles. I currently live in a fairly urban area, but one that has coyotes. If I was having a coyote problem, I couldn’t just leave hamburger laced with poison and be shocked when my neighbors dog eats it and I get sued. I know dogs eat raw meat, and I know that they’re around. This is the same situation, but with a protected wild animal instead of a pet.

  4. Mr. Smith,
    No matter where the farmer lives, the law has to be followed. He has a recourse with his representatives on the State and Federal level. The farmer does not have to use poison to control coyotes. Some farmers out West use Mules to defend against Wolves with good success. Dogs can be very useful againt Coyotes. There are other ways to control them without poison and I would not be surprised if the farmer used your argument in the trial,unsuccessfully. If we allow the farmer to violate the law, then they are no better than the Unitary Executibe BS that George W. Bush and Cheney and Addington have been spewing for 8 years.

  5. Rafflaw

    And all I’m saying is a law that punishes a farmer who puts out poison to kill coyotes with threat of imprisonment and a heavy fine does not sound like a well thought out law, in fact it sounds like a law thought up by a bunch of urbanites that probably have never seen a coyote outside of a zoo (not that they are ugly or anything, quite beautiful animals, its just they have a tendency to eat smaller livestock, and are a threat to beloved pets such as cats and small dogs), and for some reason think that farmers are a greater threat to biological diversity than strip-malls. Without poison, the farmer is left with fewer tools to do his job, like fences (notoriously ineffective), a rifle, big dogs, or so on, which may not be the best solution for the farmer in his particular situation. In this instance, the law as applied seemed to be far too harsh, and thus a pardon seems quite appropriate.

  6. Mr. Smith,
    No matter where you live, we are a nation of laws and this farmer broke the law. Just because you live in a rural area does not exempt you from having to follow the law. Noone is denying the president’s power to pardon him. We are only suggesting that pardoning someone who is harming the environment is par for the course for this president who is doing everything that he can to help out his corporate friends, at the expense of the environment.

  7. This does just sound like a farmer trying to do his job, and seems like a good use of the president’s pardon powers. I’m sorry that most of the people on this post seem to have little comprehension of rural life, but a farmer should be entitled to take actions to protect his livestock without fear of fines and imprisonment. If urban professionals want to protect the environment for wild animals, then buy this guy’s land for FMV and then make it into a preserve instead of forcing him to make financial sacrifices for your ideas – of course in my experience rural land owned by urban professionals sooner or later has a god awful McMansion built on it, in which case the wildlife really gets screwed.

  8. hey farmer john,

    there are other means by which a farmer can protect his crops and NOT kill bald eagles. it’s nothing against farmers….just dumb ones.

  9. Prof. Turley,
    I just saw your appearance on the Rachel Maddow show. Great job. I couldn’t agree with you more on the war crime issue. If we do not take a firm stand and call a felony a felony, what incentive is there for any future administration to follow the law. One more political comment. I am a big Obama backer, but I hope he realizes that the Republicans will be fighting him tooth and nail for four years, whether he takes a stand on Torture and war crimes or not.

  10. Farmer John,
    Eagles have nothing to do with this “farmer” allegedly losing his animals. The eagle is a scavenger that mostly goes for dead or dying fish and not farm animals. Didn’t this guy have a trial and didn’t a jury or a judge give him a chance to defend his actions before he was found guilty? At least know your facts when you are attacking someone.

  11. Would it make a difference if the title was:

    “Farmer who accidently killed bald eagles pardoned”.

    Of course it would. This was a farmer, a man raising animals for food for America, who was losing many to coyotes & wolves. Give it up Turley you left wing wacko.

  12. PattyC,
    I value your opinion, but even though I don’t have any evidence to back it up, I truly believe that Scooter will be pardoned before Bush leaves office. If he will pardon people like these environmential disasters, pardoning a simple white collar felon will be easy.

  13. ‘I believe he will pardon Scooter after the earlier commutation of Scooter’s sentence.’

    Rafflaw, that won’t happen…

  14. Prof. Turley,
    You put it correctly that these pardons are a slap to the protection of our environment. I expect another slap before he leaves office because I believe he will pardon Scooter after the earlier commutation of Scooter’s sentence. Pres. Bush is a feeble excuse for a human being.

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