By Sara Shepherd
A man who illegally sold bald eagle and hawk feathers in Lawrence was sentenced Wednesday in federal court.
Brian K. Stoner, 33, of Ponca City, Okla., was sentenced to a year on federal probation after pleading guilty last summer to two misdemeanor counts of violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the commercialization of illegally taken wildlife, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office announced.
Stoner admitted in his plea that in February 2009 he went to a private residence in Lawrence, where he offered and sold a bald eagle tail feather fan and a Native American dress bustle made of rough-legged hawk and ferruginous hawk feathers to an undercover Federal Wildlife Service agent. Stoner also offered to sell the agent golden eagle and crested caracara, or Mexican, eagle parts.
The private residence was that of Ruben D. Littlehead, according to court documents.
Littlehead, who has since moved from Lawrence to Montana, also was charged with four counts in the case, court documents say. Littlehead, accused of offering feathers for sale twice in 2008 and in collaboration with Stoner in 2009, is scheduled to enter his plea later this month.
While Native Americans are allowed under certain circumstances to posses such feathers, commercializing them is illegal.
The feathers seized in the case will be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Eagle Repository in Colorado, Grissom’s office said.
The repository receives bald and golden eagles that are found dead and redistributes them to qualified Native Americans for use in religious ceremonies, according to its website. The birds’ feathers and parts are in high demand — in the past there have been thousands more approved applications on file than there were available eagles.