Alleged falcon killer faces misdemeanor

Possible felony would have to be pursued by Idaho Fish and Game

COEUR d'ALENE - A Hauser woman accused of attacking a hunter's falcon could face jail time.

Patti MacDonald, 60, is facing one misdemeanor count of beating or harassing an animal. MacDonald is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing March 24 in Kootenai County District Court.

If found guilty, she could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and $5,000 in fines.

The incident occurred on Jan. 7 when MacDonald allegedly parked her red Jeep Wrangler near the spot where Scott Dinger's falcon, Hornet, was in the process of killing a duck the duo had successfully hunted. As Dinger, 50, approached the scene, he saw his falcon, clearly injured, flying away.

Dinger found Hornet dead about an hour later and said the bird had suffered a fractured skull and broken leg.

Craig Walker, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation officer, became aware of the incident the night it occurred and began an investigation. In his report, Walker wrote that his office received a phone call from an unidentified woman who said she saw a falcon take a duck from the air and then went to the aid of the duck and tried to scare away the falcon.

When the falcon remained in place holding the duck, the woman said she removed a scarf that had beads on it and beat the bird.

"The woman later stated that she had been very upset about the duck being injured, but felt bad about injuring someone's pet, because she 'beat the crap out of it really hard,'" the report states.

The report adds that another investigator was able to use the office's caller identification system to identify the anonymous caller as MacDonald.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh told The Press that after reviewing Walker's investigative materials, his office determined to pursue the misdemeanor charge.

"The same penalties apply as with an animal cruelty charge," McHugh said. "This statute is more specific and appropriate for the alleged conduct."

Dinger told The Press that the charge was "unacceptable" and added that he wants the prosecutor's office to pursue a federal charge for "the unlawful take of a protected species."

McHugh said pursuing federal charges is beyond his office's jurisdiction.

"I certainly have no objection with Fish and Game pursuing that charge," he added.

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