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Press Release

Montana Man Convicted of Trafficking in Golden Eagle Feathers

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

RAPID CITY - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced that a jury has convicted Harvey Hugs, age 59, of Hardin, Montana, of three counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act following a two-day federal jury trial in Rapid City, South Dakota. The verdict was returned on February 14, 2023.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release, and a $300 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

Hugs was indicted by a federal grand jury in May of 2022. 

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act makes it a crime for anyone to take, sell, purchase, and barter, bald and golden eagles and any parts and feathers of eagles. In February of 2020, Montana authorities received information that Hugs was involved in trafficking golden eagle feathers.  Between August 20, 2020, and November 3, 2020, law enforcement utilized recorded phone calls and text messages in which Hugs offered to sell various eagle feathers. On two separate occasions, Hugs knowingly sold golden eagle tails for several hundred dollars each. On a third occasion, Hugs sold a set of golden eagle wings and a gold eagle tail for $1,000. Hugs then shipped the golden eagle feathers to South Dakota. A search warrant was executed at Hugs’ Montana home on March 3, 2021, where multiple items, including additional eagle tails and wings, were seized. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon, was able to determine that items seized from Hugs’ home genetically matched items Hugs sold and shipped during this case. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan N. Dilges prosecuted the case.

A sentencing date has not been set. The defendant was released on bond pending sentencing.  



Updated February 15, 2023