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WASHINGTON – Cedric E. Salabye of Dilkon, Ariz., was sentenced Friday in federal court in Phoenix for selling 11 bald eagle tail feathers, the Justice Department announced today. Salabye pleaded guilty on April 23, 2009, to one count of a federal indictment charging him with selling eagle feathers in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Judge David G. Campbell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona sentenced Salabye to five years of probation, six months of home confinement and 150 hours of community service.
At the time Salabye committed the violation in 2006, the bald eagle was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The bald eagle was removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2007. However, two other federal laws still provide protection for the bald eagle—the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Eagles and other protected migratory birds are viewed as sacred in many Native American cultures and the feathers of the birds are central to religious and spiritual Native American customs. By law, enrolled members of federally recognized Native American tribes are entitled to obtain permits to possess eagle parts for religious purposes, but federal law strictly prohibits the sale of bald and golden eagles or their feathers and parts under any circumstance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the National Eagle Repository, which collects eagles that die naturally, by accident or other means, to supply enrolled members of federally recognized tribes with eagle parts for religious use.
"The buying and selling of the feathers of bald eagles, our nation’s symbol, is illegal and those who choose to ignore those laws will be prosecuted," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.