PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — A Portsmouth man has been charged after he reportedly admitted to shooting a pellet gun at dozens of hawks flying near his home, according to U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.

Robert Ferreira, 64, is accused of shooting at between 50 and 80 Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks with a pump-action pellet air gun over a roughly three-year span. He’s been charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Ferreira explained to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent that he saw the birds as a threat to the squirrels that regularly visited the feeders he’d placed outside his home, according to Cunha.

Cunha said neighbors reported hearing popping sounds coming from Ferreira’s yard over the years. Neighbors also found at least eight injured or dead hawks near his home throughout that timeframe.

Both Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which bans the hunting or capturing of specified birds without a permit.

If convicted, Ferreira faces up to six months in prison and a $15,000 fine. He’s due back in court on Oct. 12.