A Westbury man who killed federally protected hawks to defend his racing pigeons was sentenced in Connecticut to a year of probation and fined $5,500, federal prosecutors said.
Thomas Kapusta, 63, of Westbury, was sentenced Wednesday in Hartford, Connecticut, by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Kapusta, who pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks, and four counts of taking, capturing and killing red-tailed hawks or Cooper’s hawks, was also ordered to perform 90 hours of community service at an animal shelter.
Red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks are birds of prey, also known as raptors, and consume pigeons as part of their natural diet, the release said. Each species is protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
According to court documents and statements in court, Kapusta and Adam Boguski, 43, of Stamford, Connecticut — both racing-pigeon enthusiasts — had a pigeon coop on Weed Avenue in Stamford.
They kept a large number of pigeons at the coop and regularly let them fly outside for exercise, according to court papers.
Because the men viewed the hawks as a threat to their birds, “they systematically captured the hawks in a trap specifically designed to capture birds of prey, shot and killed them in the trap, and disposed of their carcasses,” the papers said.
Knowing that he violated the law by capturing and killing the hawks, Kapusta instructed Boguski to refer to the trap as a “breeding cage” if law enforcement ever inquired.
In August, Boguski pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to take, capture and kill red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks, and two counts of taking, capturing and killing Cooper’s hawks. He is awaiting sentencing, according to the news release.
The release said the men pleaded guilty to killing hawks in September and October 2015.