Utah man will spend 4 years in federal prison for killing eagles without authorization

The eagle carcasses and parts were found at his prior home on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, documents stated.

(Gerry Broome | The Associated Press) In this 2016, a bald eagle soars over the Haw River below Jordan Lake in Moncure, N.C. A Utah man was sentenced on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, to almost four years in federal prison after killing at least 10 bald and golden eagles.

A 56-year-old Utah man from the Four Corners area was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to killing bald and golden eagles without authorization.

According to court documents, the man will also be required to forfeit four golden eagle carcasses and other golden and bald eagle remains and feathers, which were found at his prior home on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah.

The Department of Justice released a statement Thursday that said the 56-year-old admitted to killing about 10 bald or golden eagles between 2014 and 2015, even though he knew that doing so was illegal, and he didn’t have a permit to kill them or possess their parts.

In all, the man killed about 80 eagles and hawks for financial gain, the statement said.

In 2018, a grand jury had charged the 56-year-old with 10 counts of unauthorized taking of an eagle, plus one count of firearm possession as a felon.

When the man pleaded guilty to the gun charge and two of the eagle charges earlier this year, he also agreed to forfeit a rifle and ammunition.

On Wednesday, eight of the charges regarding eagles were dismissed, according to minutes taken during the sentencing hearing at the federal courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.

It’s unclear whether the man is an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe, with many members living on the sovereign Uintah and Ouray Reservation.

Although the bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species in 2007, the bird is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both laws prohibit killing, selling or harming eagles, their nests, or eggs.

— An earlier version of this story included an incorrect age for the defendant.