A bald eagle sits atop its nest in a pine tree along the James River in Richmond.

A Mechanicsville man who cut down a tree with an eagle’s nest in it last year pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to a misdemeanor charge of taking a bald eagle nest.

Edwin A. Mills, 63, was fined $1,000 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young, a punishment recommended by both the government and Mills’ lawyer. The maximum punishment is one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Details were not available, but Mills’ lawyer, Robert A. Peay, said the tree was located on private property on a Mills’ family farm near the 160-acre Hollyfield Solar facility in King William County.

Peay said Mills was concerned for the safety of two small dogs owned by his daughter, who was living on the property last year.

A statement of facts filed in the cases states that: “On or around February 16, 2018 ... in King William County, Virginia, the defendant did knowingly, or with wanton disregard for the consequences of his act, cut down a tree containing a bald eagle nest.”

“This statement of facts includes those facts necessary to support the plea agreement between the defendant and the United States. It does not include each and every fact known to the defendant or to the United States, and it is not intended to be a full enumeration of all of the facts surrounding the defendant’s case,” said the statement signed by Mills.

The charge was filed against Mills on Tuesday, and he agreed Friday to have the case tried by Young and waived trial by a U.S. District Court judge or a jury.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, federal law not only protects bald and golden eagles but also their eggs and nests. Under federal law, “take” can mean to “pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb.”

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