SHREVEPORT, La. >> A 20-year-old Louisiana man has been sentenced to 30 days in prison and a year on supervised release for possessing a bald eagle feather, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Daniel Glenn Smith of Homer was sentenced Tuesday in Shreveport for violating a law that says only federally recognized Native American tribes may possess any part of a bald or golden eagle, U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown said in a news release.
This is the same law that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unknowingly broke when he picked up an eagle feather from a lake and unwittingly confessed to when he told about the incident in 2018.
However, Smith did more. A statement signed when he pleaded guilty in October 2021 says he admitted killing an eagle, taking one feather from it and keeping the feather in his car.
“The American bald eagle is a symbol of our American freedom. … This defendant did not take this symbol seriously, nor the laws that prohibit anyone from killing or possessing even a feather of a bald eagle,” Brown said.
Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby could have sentenced Smith to a year in prison and imposed a $5,000 fine, according to the plea agreement. The maximum fine for a first offense is $100,000, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries began its investigation after learning that Smith had been photographed with a dead bald eagle, Brown’s news release said. A search of Smith’s vehicle turned up the feather.
Smith had previously been placed on probation and ordered not to possess a firearm for one year, as a result of hunting violations involving other wildlife, Brown said.
In 2017, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was among laws invoked when authorities broke up what a federal prosecutor in South Dakota called ″a chop shop for eagles.” That investigation brought 31 indictments; 17 people and two pawn shops were sentenced in 2018.