- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - An Idaho woman was found guilty of pursuing a protected bird after her attempt to save a duck from a hunter’s falcon ended with the death of both birds.

A Kootenai County jury found 60-year-old Patti MacDonald guilty of the misdemeanor charge and not guilty of a second misdemeanor of beating or harassing an animal, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported (https://bit.ly/1HaYm3G ).

“We fought the good fight and got our story out there,” Scott Dinger, owner of the falcon, said after the verdict Thursday.

He said he was about 500 yards away when the 8-year-old falcon named Hornet made a successful attack on Jan. 7 and landed with the duck. He said he was approaching the spot and saw a red Jeep Wrangler pull up to the side of the road. He said Hornet flew away but appeared injured.

Dinger said the woman told him she beat the bird, which had been with humans since the day it was hatched.

In court, prosecutors argued that MacDonald fractured Hornet’s skull trying to save a mallard.

MacDonald testified in her defense and discounted reports that she told others she beat the falcon with a beaded scarf, saying she doesn’t own one.

Her attorney, Michael Palmer, said witnesses misinterpreted their memories of what MacDonald had told them. He said that even if MacDonald told co-workers that she beat the falcon, she might not have meant it.

“Is that her telling them she did that, or is it her describing an unusual incident that happened to her on the way home from work?” he asked the jury before deliberations began.

Prosecutor Art Verharen discounted that argument.

“What was going on in her head is exactly what she said she did,” Verharen said. He added that the witnesses were all consistent because she said the same thing to them.

MacDonald could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine at her sentencing on July 28.


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