Tired of finding dead birds in their yards and bullet holes on their houses, neighbors of a Somers Point man reported him to authorities earlier this year.
A lengthy investigation resulted in the Friday (Aug. 23) arrest of Robert Losasso, 68, for allegedly shooting four species of hawks in the residential neighborhood where he lived, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Losasso was taken into custody today by special agents of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, and charged by complaint with six counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Losasso was scheduled to appear Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
According to the Complaint unsealed Friday:
Losasso fatally shot, and attempted to fatally shoot, with a .22 caliber rifle and a .17 caliber pellet gun, both equipped with scopes, red-tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and Cooper’s hawks. These species are among the tens of thousands of birds of prey that migrate every year from Canada along the Atlantic Flyway through New Jersey.
Residents of Somers Point reported to law enforcement that over a period of more than two and a half years they had observed more than 40 dead or injured birds of prey in or around their yards and had sustained what appeared to be bullet holes and pellet marks to their homes.
From December 2012 through April 2013, Losasso allegedly killed the birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was enacted in 1918, implements in the United States protections afforded migratory birds under several international conventions to which the United States is a party. Breeding populations of red-shouldered hawks are listed as endangered on the State of New Jersey’s Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list. Sharp-shinned hawks and populations of Cooper’s hawks also have special protections under New Jersey state law.
The counts charged are strict liability crimes that carry a maximum potential penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of $15,000 per count.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Carmine Sabia, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Law Enforcement, and the Somers Point Police Department, for their roles in the case.
Losasso's address is listed as on Dawes Avenue in Somers Point.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen P. O'Leary of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to the complaint filed against Losasso, authorities allegedly captured video footage of Losasso opening a sliding glass door, using binoculars and carrying what appeared to be a "long black gun." He also was allegedly filmed scattering what appeared to be bird or squirrel feed, according to the complaint.