MDTA Officer and Friends Detained After Allegedly Shooting Federally Protected Birds Near Key Bridge

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Key Bridge, where the birds’ bodies were found. Photo by Patorjk, via Wikimedia Commons.

A state transportation officer is in hot water for an ill-advised evening hunting expedition on the Patapsco River.

WJZ-TV reports an unnamed off-duty Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) officer is suspected of killing a handful of federally protected birds from a boat with a couple buddies in the Patapsco River near the Baltimore harbor. The trio were allegedly found with hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their vessel near the Key Bridge on the night of July 21. Nearby sat the corpses of several birds, including a gull and a cormorant. Authorities reportedly also recovered a shotgun that had been tossed overboard.

The station reports Baltimore Police Department marine officers, officers from the Maryland Natural Resources Police and U.S. Coast Guard members responded, chasing the men in their 21-foot boat from the Key Bridge to an area near Dundalk. All were detained, and charges are pending.

“We found a lot of ammunition, there was a lot of empty beer cans, but also found 200 shotgun rounds and other ammunition,” city police Sgt. Kurt Roepcke told WJZ. “They didn’t really say much to us.”

A BPD spokesperson hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

MDTA spokesman Lt. Kevin Ayd said the officer’s police powers “have been suspended and the officer has been placed on administrative duty” while city police continue to investigate.

The Washington Post reports a captain on a nearby cruise ship helped alert marine authorities to the alleged bird killers, and that BPD’s Foxtrot helicopter helped spook the boaters into giving up their chase.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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