News and Press Releases

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Two Utah Men for Violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Defendants Charged with Unlawfully Offering for Sale Bald Eagle,
Red-Tail Hawk and Northern Flicker Feathers.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – A federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque has indicted two men from Bluff, Utah, for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Nicholas E. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

Peterson Oliver Black, Jr., 30, and Jonas Brown, 31, are charged in a three-count indictment that was filed on Jan. 23, 2013. The indictment alleges that Black and Brown offered for sale Bald Eagle, Red-Tail Hawk, and Northern Flicker feathers on Jan. 31, 2009, in San Juan County, N.M. Arraignment dates for Black and Brown have yet to be scheduled.

If convicted, Black and Brown each face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment, one year of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on each of the three counts of the indictment. Charges in indictments are merely accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Eagles, Red-Tail Hawks, Northern Flickers, and other migratory birds are protected under federal wildlife laws, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws prohibit the possession, use, and sale of the feathers or other parts of federally protected birds, as well as the unauthorized killing of these birds, to help ensure that the Eagle and other bird populations remain healthy and sustainable.

“Protecting our Nation's Wildlife from unlawful commercial exploitation of protected U.S. Species is a high priority for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Chavez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We also work with our local, state, tribal, and other federal law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals that violate wildlife laws."

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers, and was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navajo Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. It is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on its work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow its tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch its YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from its Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

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