Home » Colts safety’s father identified as man who allegedly killed bald eagle with rifle

Colts safety’s father identified as man who allegedly killed bald eagle with rifle

by Mahmmod Shar

Rodney Thomas, 50, turned himself into police

By Ryan Morik

Roughly two weeks after a man surrendered to police for allegedly killing a bald eagle, the identity of the suspect has been released.

The alleged poacher is 50-year-old Rodney Thomas, whose son, Rodney Thomas II, is a safety for the Indianapolis Colts.

The alleged shooting happened May 12 outside Pittsburgh when residents found one of two local mature bald eagles dead in a field.

“We’re devastated that this would happen, and we don’t understand why somebody would do this,” resident Linda Carnevali told Fox News Digital earlier this month.

The eagle pair had been in the area nearly two decades, she said, almost always together except when they were protecting their clutches or newly hatched eaglets. Two eaglets recently hatched in the nest, residents said.

Within days of the poaching, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said in a statement tips had led investigators to the suspect, who “admitted to all aspects of the crime.”

“We believe that the suspect will face any appropriate state and/or federal charges in due course upon the conclusion of the ongoing investigations,” Mount Pleasant Township Police Chief Matthew Tharp said.

Two bald eagles in a nest in a tree
Two mature bald eagles in their nest in Mount Pleasant Township, Pa. One of them was allegedly killed by a poacher in May, shortly after two eaglets hatched.  (Shannon Kuzio)

Bald eagles are considered one of the country’s greatest wildlife preservation success stories, and populations have rebounded across the U.S. after they were first placed on the endangered species list.

When they were upgraded from endangered to protected, the state penalty for killing an eagle in Pennsylvania was downgraded to a summary violation fine of up to $200.

The Pennsylvania state Senate recently passed a bill to raise the fine to $2,000 in an effort to discourage poaching.

The federal penalty for poaching a bald eagle can include a fine of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison for a first offense, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Rodney Thomas interception
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II intercepts a pass against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium.  (Matt Krohn/USA Today Sports)

Thomas was a seventh-round pick out of Yale last year to Indianapolis. He appeared in all 17 games last year, playing 63% of defensive snaps and intercepting four passes.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Jordan Early contributed to this report.

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