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Drop Charges Against Good Samaritan for Rescuing Bald Eagles

This petition had 65,879 supporters

We are writing to you today regarding the trial of Mr. Steve Patterson; a man who rescued two bald eagles from a blown down nest in LaSalle County, Illinois in June 2013.  We have been following this story since it happened, and learned that a status hearing took place on October 29, 2014 after the October 9th mistrial. We are saddened to learn that after receiving 53,000 signatures, the State's Attorney's office has decided to go forward with a second trial on February 23, 2015 to prosecute a man who only did what he thought was right; rescued two injured, dehydrated, starving eagles and got them the help they needed to survive.

Sir, we come before you not only as wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers, but as constituents and taxpayers in this wonderful state of Illinois.  The time, effort and money that has been spent in trying to prosecute this man could be used in so many other ways, such as going after true criminals by prosecuting those who are out to hurt; not those who are trying to help.

It was only after witnessing the eaglets on the ground for several days and seeing them injured that Mr. Patterson decided to take matters into his own hands.  Yes, he broke the law, but most states have laws protecting people who rescue injured animals.

The federal Good Samaritan protection law is not available under Illinois law, which makes things very difficult for a person who is only trying to help an injured or suffering animal. The term “take”, as defined by Sec 1.2o of the Illinois Wildlife Code 520 ILCS 5/1.2o, “means hunt, shoot, pursue, lure, kill, destroy, capture, gig or spear, trap or ensnare, harass, or to attempt to do so.” These attributes make it sound like “taking” is done with malicious intent; not with the intent to rescue and help an injured animal.  Clearly, Mr. Patterson’s intentions were not malicious.  He did not take the eagles home to raise them as pets or attempt to nurse the eagles back to good health; he immediately contacted a professional with a license to do so.

If this man is prosecuted, it will set a precedent for people to turn their backs when they see an animal suffering.  Wildlife rehabilitation facilities count on Good Samaritans to be their eyes and ears when they are unable to get to the phones or out to the rescue sites due to being overworked, understaffed, and self-funded for the most part.  The world is already a callous and uncaring place with very few people who care for the well being of animals and nature. Every animal deserves a timely rescue, or a humane death, and that's where I believe most people's motives come from...not just for the animal to be saved, but to be relieved if it is in fact injured and/or suffering.  We believe that Mr. Patterson’s motive was only to help the eagles.

We ask for your consideration in dropping all charges against Mr. Patterson and cancel the trial on February 23, 2015. Please do not continue to use our tax dollars to pay for a second trial. This county needs money to go into the local economy and to assist with the natural disasters it has faced over the past two years; not another trial for a man who picked up two birds.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

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