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Press Release

Letcher Man Convicted of Unlawful Taking of a Bald Eagle and Unlawful Use of Pesticide

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that Theodore Nelson, Jr., a/k/a Ted Nelson, age 69, of Letcher, South Dakota, was found guilty of Unlawful Taking of Bald Eagle and Unlawful Use of Pesticide as a result of a federal jury trial in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 13 months in custody and/or a $26,000 fine, one year of supervised release, restitution, and a $30 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  

Nelson was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 9, 2015. 

Nelson is a landowner in Sanborn County.  The convictions stemmed from incidents between approximately January 1, 2015, and May 12, 2015, when Nelson, without being permitted to do so, knowingly and with wanton disregard for the consequences of his actions, injected a poison, Carbofuran, also known as Furadan 4F, into the carcasses of cows in order to kill predators, including coyotes.  Carbofuran is a restricted use pesticide that is extremely toxic to wildlife, including birds.  Use of this pesticide for baiting purposes is strictly prohibited, and the container is labeled accordingly.

As a result of Nelson’s actions, area animals, including coyotes and an adult Bald eagle, died of Carbofuran poisoning.  Laboratory results from the National Fish & Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, confirmed that the eagle died of Carbofuran poisoning, after eating coyote carcasses with poisoning in its system.

 “The verdict in this case signifies the public’s interest in ensuring laws are enforced that protect our natural resources,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan Dilges. “This case is a stark reminder that the illegal use of pesticides that ultimately kills protected wildlife is a crime that we take very seriously in the U.S. Attorney’s office. The wildlife and environmental laws on the books are not just collecting dust. We are prosecuting offenders to the full extent of the law.”

Jeffrey Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of the Environment Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in South Dakota, issued the following statement on July 12, 2016: “The defendant’s actions caused the taking of a Bald eagle and several other species.  Product labels are designed to ensure the safe use and application of pesticides.  Using pesticides for purposes other than their registered use is illegal and puts people, animals and the environment at risk of exposure.  Today’s action shows that individuals who misuse these products and kill protected wildlife will be prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges prosecuted the case.

Nelson is in custody with the U.S. Marshals Service.  A sentencing date has not been set.

Updated July 15, 2016