STAMFORD, Conn. — A 63-year-old Long Island man has been sentenced to a year of federal probation for trapping and killing hawks in Stamford in an effort to protect his racing pigeons, prosecutors said.
Thomas Kapusta of Westbury, N.Y., was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford. He was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine and perform 90 hours of community service at a local animal shelter, said U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly.
Chatigny ordered several special conditions of Kapusta's probation that restrict his ability to engage in his racing pigeon hobby, including allowing his pigeon coop in Stamford to be randomly inspected by federal and state environmental authorities.
The birds targeted were red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks, which are birds of prey, or raptors. The hawks, which eat pigeons as part of their natural diet, are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Kapusta and Adam Boguski were racing pigeon enthusiasts who constructed and maintained a pigeon coop at 330 Weed Ave. in Stamford.
Kapusta and Boguski kept a large number of racing pigeons at this coop, and regularly let them fly outside for exercise. Because the two men viewed hawks as a threat to their pigeons, 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.
Knowing that he was violating the law, Kapusta instructed Boguski to refer to the hawk trap as a “breeding cage” if law enforcement ever inquired.
On Feb. 17, Kapusta pleaded guilty 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. In pleading guilty, he admitted that he killed red-tailed hawks on Sept. 8 and Oct. 14, 2015, and Cooper’s hawks on Sept. 2 and Oct. 21, 2015.
On Aug. 8, 2016, Boguski, of Stamford, 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. In pleading guilty he admitted that he killed Cooper’s hawks on Sept. 27, 2015, and Oct. 17, 2015. He awaits sentencing.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, and the Environmental Conservation Police of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the assistance of the Stamford Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen.