U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced March 6 in a U.S. Department of Justice news release that Ruben Dean Littlehead, 38, Lawrence, Kansas, and Brian K. Stoner, 32, Ponca City, Oklahoma, are charged with unlawfully selling feathers from eagles and hawks covered by a federal law protecting migratory birds. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in Douglas County, Kansas.
Federal law (Title 16, United States Code, Section 703) prohibits taking, killing or possessing migratory birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a National Eagle Repository in Colorado for the purpose of providing eagle feathers to Native Americans for use in Indian religious and cultural ceremonies. (For more information, see: Fws.gov/le/national-eagle-repository.html.)
The indictment alleges:
On September 15, 2008, Littlehead sold a bustle made with 68 feathers from a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
On November 22, 2008, Littlehead sold 11 tail feathers and a wing from a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
On February 26, 2009, Littlehead and Stoner offered for sale parts of a Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and a Crested Caracara (Mexican Eagle, Caracara cheriway). They sold a tail feather fan made from feathers of a Bald eagle.
On February 26, 2009, they sold a bustle made of feathers of a rough-legged hawk and ferruginous hawk (Bueto lagopus and Buteo regalis).
If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot is prosecuting.