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Press Release

Rapid City Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Wildlife Trafficking

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

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Wildlife Trafficking was sentenced on October 6, 2020, by Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.

Troy Fairbanks, age 57, was sentenced to 5 years’ probation, and was ordered to pay $15,816 in restitution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Fairbanks was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2017.  The charge related to Fairbanks conspiring with his sons and other individuals to traffic in wildlife—specifically, bald and golden eagles, various species of hawks, and fifteen other bird species—and parts of those birds. Fairbanks, the owner/operator of a Native American dance business called Buffalo Dreamers, bought, sold, traded, and bartered eagles and hawks and their parts on numerous occasions between July 17, 2014, and February 11, 2016.  Fairbanks sold and traded hundreds of eagle feathers, as well as eagle wings, eagle heads, eagle claws, raptor claws, hawk feathers, and parts from other CITES I protected birds.  The National Fish and Wildlife Forensic lab conducted DNA testing of the carcasses, parts, and feathers recovered through these purchases and after a search warrant conducted at Fairbanks’s home. The DNA testing revealed at least 112 eagles passed through his home during the investigation.

Fairbanks is one of the last defendants of the Project Dakota Flyer investigation to be sentenced.  To date, 29 defendants have been sentenced, resulting in $56,000 in fines and $196,546 in restitution. 

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Kelderman and Meghan Dilges prosecuted the case.

Updated October 16, 2020