TAMPA — A Hudson man who shot a bald eagle while illegally hunting in Ruskin in 2008 was fined $500 Friday and sentenced to six months in prison followed by a year's probation.
U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday sentenced Jesse Barresse, 33, in federal court. He was convicted of violating the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act in connection with his actions during an illegal duck hunting trip on Jan. 13, 2008.
Referencing his upbringing in rural Putnam County, Merryday said it sends shivers down his spine to think about crimes like the one Barresse committed.
"I don't know what kind of person pulls out a shotgun and guns down a bald eagle," Merryday said. "I think somebody who would do that needs to take a long look at themselves."
Barresse's arrest came after he bragged about killing the eagle, U.S. fish and wildlife officials said. Wildlife agents heard about it while investigating the shooting of another bald eagle in a separate, unrelated case in Manatee County.
Barresse was wanted in Missouri at the time on drug-related charges. U.S. marshals and fish and wildlife agents arrested him at his girlfriend's home in Hudson on Feb. 1 on that outstanding warrant, officials said.
He initially said he thought he had shot an osprey, another federally protected species, but later confessed to shooting the eagle, officials said. Two witnesses also gave statements implicating him.
Barresse pleaded guilty to the shooting in February.
The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list last year, officials said. But the eagle is still protected under Florida law, which makes wounding or killing one a third-degree felony.