Minnesota Lake Man Pleads Guilty To Destroying Pelican Nests And Killing Chicks
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, a 59-year-old man from
the southern Minnesota community of Minnesota Lake pleaded guilty to one count of violating
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal misdemeanor. Craig Louis Staloch, who was charged
on September 15, 2011, entered his plea before United States Magistrate Court Judge Jeffrey J.
In his plea agreement, Staloch admitted that on May 17, 2011, he intentionally killed and
attempted to kill a large number of American white pelicans, which are protected under federal
law. On that day, a wildlife specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(“DNR”) visited farmland rented by Staloch to assess the status of an area that had been used as
a nesting colony by a number of pelicans the previous year. Upon her arrival, she found
numerous adult pelicans, many sitting on nests.
On May 18, 2011, that same specialist returned with others to conduct a complete count of
the pelicans at the site. However, at that time, no adult pelicans were found, and broken eggs
were discovered in many of the nests. The eggs appeared to have been smashed with a heavy
object. The researchers also found countless dead pelican chicks, some crushed, others dead
from abandonment or exposure. There were 1,458 nests in the colony, and the majority of them
contained at least two eggs. More than 70 percent of the nests had been destroyed.
Staloch admitted he had used a stick to destroy the nests and smash eggs containing
unhatched chicks. He also admitted that due to his actions, numerous chicks that did manage to
hatch died of exposure.
For his crime, Staloch faces a potential maximum penalty of six months in prison as well as
a fine. This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the
DNR. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Ueland.