15 defendants indicted for the illegal trafficking of eagles

Published: Apr. 24, 2017 at 5:34 PM MDT
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Fifteen people have been federally indicted for the illegal black market trafficking of eagles and other migratory birds.

The indictments are a result of a two year undercover operation called Project Dakota Flyer.

The defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

One special agent says there will probably be at least 200 to 250 eagles by the time lab analysis is complete.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Assistant Special Agent Dan Rolince says, "In general, a whole bald eagle carcass, in this case, would sell for between $1,000 and $1,200."

United States Attorney Randolph Seiler says, "There are key kinds of pivot points where you're thinking maybe it's going down the drain or isn't working as well as it might, but to see this one through to the end. I mean it was a point of so much pride and satisfaction on the part of the agents and the prosecutors that had worked so hard."

Seiler says the eagle feathers and parts were treated with no cultural sensitivity or spirituality.

Beaks, talons, and feathers were stuffed in garbage bags and blood was all over the vehicles transporting the body parts.