15 People Indicted In Eagle Wildlife Trafficking Case In South Dakota

Boston Magazine

Media outlets throughout the country are sharing the disturbing news, released yesterday, that 15 people from four states have been federally indicted in South Dakota for illegally trafficking eagles and other migratory birds.

The news appears to have been generated from an Associated Press article that was covered by a variety of outlets including ABC News.

Local Fox affiliate KEVN reported that the charges were filed following a two-year undercover investigation referred to as Project Dakota Flyer.

SDPB radio further reported that roughly 250 eagles, and over one-hundred hawks and owls had been trafficked during this time.


The alleged perpetrators have been charged with conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

“There was no cultural sensitivity, there was no spirituality, there was no tradition in the manner with which these defendants handled these birds,” said United States attorney for South Dakota, Randy Seiler who described one moneymaking operation as a chop shop for eagles. “They had eagle feathers stuffed in garbage bags, in Wal-Mart bags—blood all over, transported them in various vehicles and coolers.”


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Assistant Special Agent Dan Rolince, who confirmed most of the eagles were shot dead, further explained that a whole bald eagle carcass would sell for between $1,000.00 and $1,200.00.

“Although the scope of today’s announcements and indictments is in South Dakota, there has been information and spinoff cases, because of this one, in other parts of the country as well,” he said yesterday adding that he believes this will be one of the largest illegal trafficking cases his department has ever worked on. “This is not a localized problem, it’s a national problem.”

CBS News

Those accused in the case include people from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming; and not all are connected to each other.

According to Seiler, officials expect “significant” additional federal charges to be filed in the case.

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