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Farmer who killed rare Philippine eagle given small fine

May 25, 2012

A farmer in the Philippines was handed down a fine earlier this week for killing and eating a rare bird. Bryan Balaon, 26, was fined about $2,300 for shooting a Philippine eagle, one of the rarest birds in the world, according to the AFP. The Philippine eagle is also the national bird of the Philippines, making Balaon's error all the more egregious. Conservationists claim the fine was too small and may lead to poachers having less fear of repercussions for their actions.

"We find the fine pathetic. He got off with a slap on the wrist," Dennis Salvador, president of the Philippine Eagle Foundation, told the AFP. "The victim is our national bird, our national heritage. I feel that we lost an opportunity here to send an important message against poachers and other people who commit crimes against nature."

The foundation reports rough estimates place the entire wild population of this species to number fewer than 250 birds. They exist only in a few regions of the Pacific islands - Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. Illegal hunting and trapping of the eagles pose the largest threat to the dwindling population, which is why many claim Balaon's fine was not hefty enough.

BBC News reports the bird's remains were found at a national park because it had been wearing a tracking device after being released from captivity in 2006. Balaon told officials he did not know the bird he shot was endangered. He shot it with an airgun and then shared the spoils of his victory with his friends. Even though many considered his punishment light, Balaon's lawyer has already stated they would be appealing the verdict, according to the news source.

Those who want to find out more about the case can make calls to the Philippines with phone cards.

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