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Two Honduran nationals cited for killing a bald eagle on private property in Nebraska were intending to eat it, Nebraska's Stanton County Sheriff's Office and other outlets reported.
"I’m very frustrated with the federal government," Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger told the Washington Free Beacon. Unger's attempts to connect with authorities who could jail the men under federal laws have gone unanswered.
Ramiro Hernandez-Tziquin and Domingo Zetino-Hernandez, both age 20, "had shot and killed the protected national bird ... and stated they planned on cooking and eating the bird," according to an SCSO press release.
The pair shot the bird with an "assault-style" air rifle, Unger told the Beacon. The office declined to release photos of the creature due to the graphic nature of the images, which "contain lots of blood."
Though the Nebraska officials charged the pair, the charge is a misdemeanor, and they cannot be held in jail until their trial March 28. Until then, they walk free, the Beacon reported. In addition, police officers are not permitted to ask about a suspect's immigration status.
Both were cited for unlawful possession of the eagle. Hernandez-Tziquin was also cited for driving without a license.
"More serious charges are possible as the investigation into the unlawful killing continues," the release also said.
The incident occurred February 28 about 4:00 p.m. The Stanton County Sheriff's office responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle near Wood Duck Recreation Area. The suspicious vehicle was located in a field and the two men had a North American Bald Eagle in their possession.
Officers used a translation app to communicate with the suspects during the apprehension, according to the New York Times. It was unclear whether the men knew killing the bird was illegal. Unger also told the Times it was possible the translation app used the word "vulture" instead of "eagle" during the interaction with deputies.
Nebraska Game and Parks took custody of the eagle and the rifle used to kill it, according to the sheriff's office press release.
Sheriff Unger's attempts to contact federal authorities who could jail the suspects have fallen on deaf ears, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whom Unger has repeatedly attempted to contact to no avail, could bring charges that include a punishment of up to a year in prison.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not respond to the Times' request for comments nor to the Beacon's.
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