News and Press Releases

Miller Man Indicted for Violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Witness Tampering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2012
Contact: Mark E. Salter
Assistant United States Attorney
605-357-2360

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Miller, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Witness Tampering.
Jeff G. Blachford, age 25, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 12, 2012. He appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on June 15, 2012, and pled not guilty to the indictment. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 20 years’ custody, a $250,000 fine, or both; not more than 3 years of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment. Restitution may also be ordered.

The charges relate to allegations that in April 2012, Blachford shot and killed an endangered whooping crane and one hawk in Hand County, approximately 17 miles southwest of Miller, South Dakota. Blachford is further alleged to have corruptly persuaded a witness to withhold information from law enforcement officials. The charges are merely accusations, and Blachford is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in the world with a total population of approximately 600 individuals. The whooping crane killed in this investigation was one of about 300 endangered cranes that migrate from wintering grounds along the gulf coast of Texas to the Woods Buffalo State Park located in Alberta and the Northwest Territories of Canada. This population of whooping cranes is the only self-sustaining population in the world.

The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and South Dakota Game Fish and Parks. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Meghan N. Dilges. Blachford was released on bond pending trial.

 

 

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