A Somers Point man has been charged with shooting and killing several migratory birds from his backyard, a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to a federal complaint.
Robert Losasso, 68, was taken into custody Friday by special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and was scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
According to a copy of the complaint, Losasso killed or shot at four hawk species — three red-tailed hawks, a sharp-shinned hawk, a red-shouldered hawk and a Cooper’s hawk — over a four-month period from December 2012 to April 2013.
Somers Point police Chief Michael Boyd said the department is assisting with the investigation and will review the case for additional charges Monday.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, MBTA, was enacted in 1918 to protect the tens of thousands of birds that migrate every year from Canada along the Atlantic Flyway through New Jersey, including the four species Losasso allegedly shot at.
The complaint stated that neighbors in a four block-radius of Losasso’s home had observed a total of more than 40 dead or injured raptors in or around their yards from August 2010 to April 2013, some with bloody feathers or beaks and open wounds.
Certain residents also heard gunshots coming from the direction of Losasso’s residence on several occasions and observed what appeared to be bullet holes or pellet marks on their property, the complain states.
As part of the federal investigation, a camera was installed in the vicinity near Losasso’s residence, which allegedly captured video footage of a black-barreled gun emerging from Losasso’s rear sliding glass door, Losasso leaning out of the door with the gun, Losasso scanned the yard, looked upward and dispensing what appeared to be bird or squirrel feed, according to the complaint.
A search warrant by law officials was later executed at his home, leading agents to recover a .17 caliber pellet gun and a .22 caliber riffle, both equipped with scopes, and both of which Losasso admitted were his, along with ammunition. The complaint said that during the search Losasso said he knew it was illegal to kill birds of prey and denied doing so.
A ballistics examination later revealed pellets recovered from injured hawks had been discharged from the .17 caliber pellet gun recovered at Losasso’s residence, which led to an arrest.
Losasso could not be reached for comment Friday.
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