ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Window Rock man was indicted last month for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
According to a news release, the two-count indictment alleges that on Jan. 18, 2019, and Feb. 5, 2019, George Tom Skeet, 35, 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, according to the news release.
“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 Special Agent in Charge Phillip 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.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson is prosecuting the case.
According to the news release, 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. 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, according to the news release.