Press: Idaho Woman Sentenced in Falcon Death Trial 

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A north Idaho woman has been sentenced to 20 hours of community service and $500 in court fines for her role in the death of a hunter's falcon, but only after a judge said he took into account a letter from the bird's owner that the woman not serve any jail time.

Prosecutors said 60-year-old Patti MacDonald of the Kootenai County town of Hauser had encountered the falcon when the bird was attempting to kill a duck (lawful) in January of this year. Witnesses testified that the falcon had later died of a broken skull and fractured leg.  MacDonald was ultimately charged with beating or harassing an animal and pursuing a protected bird. In July, MacDonald was found guilty of the second charge.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports prosecutors had initially recommended jail time for MacDonald, saying she displayed "arrogant ignorance" of the law. But MacDonald's defense attorney argued that his client was showing "a great deal of empathy" in her effort to save the duck from the falcon. The attorney added that considerable media coverage of the event has caused his client to be targed with threats and harassment.

Ultimately, a letter from the falcon's owner weighed heavily in the sentence from First Judicial Magistrate Judge James Stow that kept MacDonald out of jail, but requiring the 20 hours of community service which must be completed by year's end.

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