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Press Release

Window Rock Man indicted for violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant charged with unlawfully selling and offering for sale protected red-tailed hawk, bald and golden eagle feathers

          ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –Fred J. Federici, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Phillip Land, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, announced the indictment of George Tom Skeet, 35, of Window Rock, Arizona, for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

          Skeet made an initial appearance in federal court on May 10. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 23.

          The two-count indictment alleges that on Jan. 18, 2019, and Feb. 5, 2019, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Skeet sold and offered for sale red-tailed hawk, bald eagle and golden eagle feathers.  The birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. To help ensure that hawk, eagle, and other bird populations remain healthy and sustainable, 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.

          “One of our highest priorities is to combat wildlife trafficking and investigate individuals who are involved in the unlawful commercialization of our nation's fish and wildlife," said SAC Land. "This successful indictment was the result of working together with the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico.  We will continue to work closely with all our law enforcement partners to root out those individuals who exploit protected wildlife species for their own financial gain.”    

          If convicted, Skeet faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $2,000 fine, and a $100 special penalty assessment. An indictment is only an allegation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

          The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson is prosecuting the case.

          The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts.

Updated May 14, 2021

Press Release Number: 21-91