Minnesota Lake Man Sentenced For 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 was sentenced on one count of violating
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal misdemeanor. United States Magistrate Court Judge
Jeffrey J. Keyes sentenced Craig Louis Staloch to two years of probation and imposed
numerous conditions, including that he pay a fine in the amount of $12,500 and complete 100
hours of community service directly related to wildlife preservation. Staloch was charged on
September 15, 2011, and pleaded guilty on November 15, 2011.
Following today’s sentencing, Pat Lund, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service’s Bloomington Field Office, said, “This is one of the largest illegal takes of
migratory birds in the nation and most likely the most serious Migratory Bird Treaty Act
violation to have ever occurred in Minnesota. The defendant in this case knowingly and singlehandedly
destroyed nearly 15 percent of the breeding grounds for the American white pelican in
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.
This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the
DNR. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Ueland.