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home : news : local   April 29, 2016

10/17/2013 2:46:00 AM
No deal for man who took baby eagles from nest

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

OTTAWA — A wildlife photographer accused of illegally taking baby eagles from their nest has rejected a plea agreement — and his lawyer insists the birds would be dead if not for his client.

Steve E. Patterson, 62, of Oglesby left an Ottawa courthouse Wednesday with a Nov. 27 status hearing and without a deal.

New defense attorney Tom McClintock confirmed he’s rejected a negotiated plea offer and anticipates taking the case before a La Salle County jury. A trial likely will be set at the Nov. 27 hearing.

McClintock also told the NewsTribune he has obtained medical reports from raptor rescue associations that document the birds’ injuries that prompted Patterson to take them from the nest. Patterson, he said, saved the birds.

Patterson was charged in June after a Conservation police investigation showing he’d removed two birds on June 1 from a nest site between Peru and Oglesby. He faces up to a year in La Salle County Jail if convicted of two counts of illegal taking of a bird of prey and two counts of taking a protected species and keeping it alive.

Patterson said he alerted authorities with concerns about the birds’ welfare; but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they advised Patterson to leave the birds alone.

The bald eagle is no longer considered an endangered species and was removed from federal and state lists in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Nevertheless, the species remains protected by several federal and state laws.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or

Related Stories:
• Would-be eagle rescuer trial under way in Ottawa
• He broke the law - and wants an acquittal
• Letters to the editor: Oglesby man a hero for saving baby eagles

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