A University of South Carolina trustee was among three men fined and banned from hunting for a year after killing federally-protected hawks at an Orangeburg County private hunting preserve.
66-year-old Charles Williams was sentenced Monday after submitting a guilty plea in federal court to seven counts of unlawful trapping and killing of red-tailed or Cooper’s hawks at the Willcreek Plantation. The hawks are protected under federal law as migratory birds of prey and hunters may not kill them.
Williams was the registered agent for the LLC which owns Willcreek. In addition to a $75,000 fine, he must also complete 50 hours of community service at a birds-of-prey center and cannot hunt for one year.
Trapping and killing hawks without a permit is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and carries a maximum prison term of six months and a fine of up to $15,000, or both, for each count of conviction.
Prosecutors said a tipster called the Department of Natural Resources in 2013 to report the potential crimes. Responding officers said they seized more than 30 raptor carcasses at the plantation during their investigation.
66-year-old John Dantzler and 57-year-old Jimmie Aiken were also banned from hunting for a year and fined $1,000 each for their roles in the illegal hunting.