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House File 326 advanced out of subcommittee and committee last week. Current law requires a person convicted of unlawfully selling, taking, catching, killing, injuring, destroying or having their possession an eagle to reimburse the state $50.

This bill will require a person convicted of such a violation to pay $2,500.

Rep. Scott Ourth asked the DNR during subcommittee if there were any heartburn with the bill. The DNR said it is fine.

“Our current fine for killing a bald eagle is $50, that’s much too low,” said Rep. Dean Fisher. “This bill makes it more consistent with taking other species that are unlawful to take.”

Anyone who would hit an eagle while driving would not be guilty.

“You can’t help that, but if you’re out hunting and you shoot a bald eagle, that’s where it’s really intended,” Fisher said.

Last year the bill failed to move. Fisher was given it this year.

“The fine never really should’ve been that low,” he said. “It’s our national symbol. It’s certainly a gorgeous bird. We need to discourage people from doing that.”

Author: Jacob Hall