STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man was sentenced Wednesday in Connecticut to a year of probation after admitting he killed federally protected hawks an effort to protect his racing pigeons.

Thomas Kapusta of Westbury, New York, had pleaded guilty in February to charges including four counts of taking, capturing and killing red-tailed hawks and Cooper's Hawks.

The hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Kapusta, 63, told authorities he was trying to prevent the hawks from preying on the 100 or so racing pigeons that he kept in a coop at his mother's home in Stamford, Connecticut.

Prosecutors said Kapusta and the pigeons' co-owner, Adam Boguski, shot at least 11 hawks, many of which were first captured in a trap that was built for that purpose. The evidence included photographs of some of the shootings.

In arguing for a prison sentence, prosecutors wrote that Kapusta's actions were deliberate and cruel. They asked he been sentenced to a day in jail for each hawk that was shot.

"He appreciated the illegality of his actions, but repeatedly persisted in killing the protected raptors without regard for the (law) or respect for his fellow citizens' collective right to enjoy a public wildlife resource," they wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

In addition to probation, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny on Wednesday also ordered Kapusta to pay a $5,500 fine and perform 90 hours of community service at a local animal shelter.

Kapusta's lawyer, Nathan Buchok, argued that his client be allowed to keep his birds, noting they were homing pigeons and would have to be kept in cages to prevent them from returning to the property.

"It is counterintuitive and against the interests of all parties that Mr. Kapusta's punishment for harming one species of bird, would involve the infliction of harm on another species of bird," he wrote.

Chatigny allowed the coop to remain, but banned Kapusta from racing or exhibiting the birds, breeding any more pigeons or financially benefiting in any way from keeping them.

Boguski faces sentencing in April.