Bird Possession: A Federal Crime

3 Hopi tribal members sentenced to probation for illegally possessing a golden eagle in Ariz.

The Associated Press reports

Three Hopi tribal members have been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution for illegally possessing a golden eagle.

Prosecutors say Arthur Batala, Darrell Batala and Steven Silas were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff for violating a federal law that protects most species of birds.

Eagles are viewed as sacred in many Native American cultures, and the feathers and other parts of the birds are central to tribal religions and customs. Authorities say enrolled members of federally recognized tribes may obtain permits to take eagles for religious purposes, but federal law prohibits the sale of bald and golden eagles or their feathers and other parts.

Arthur Batala was sentenced last week to two years of probation, Darrell Batala to one year of probation and Silas to one year of supervised probation. The three men also must pay $500 apiece in restitution.

This is just one more example of an overzealous government looking for a reason to arrest non-violent individuals for victimless “crimes.”