Authorities charged a man in the poisonings of at least 137 wedge-tailed eagles in on a property in East Gippsland, Victoria.  The birds are a protected species.

Officials described it as the largest case of suspected wedge-tailed eagle killings they had ever seen.  They also fear that the true number of dead birds may be even larger.

"Two initial charges were filed, under the Wildlife Act 1975, in relation to the deaths of numerous wedge-tailed eagles in East Gippsland," according to a statement from The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) issued this week.  "The charges concern the killing of protected wildlife, being wedge-tailed eagles, through the use of bait impregnated with poison between October 2016 and April 2018."

Victoria's Wildlife Act states that killing a wedge-tailed eagle carries a fine of up to AU$7,928 and a jail term of up to six years.  The fine for killing each additional bird is AU$792 per carcass.  That puts the potential fine at more than AU$115,000. 

The suspect has already made bail, and had to give up his passport.  Authorities did not specify his motive.  Sheep farmers have been concerned about the eagles' ability to snatch lambs.