RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man accused in a widespread case involving the illegal trafficking of eagles and other protected birds has been sentenced to five years of probation and order to pay thousands of dollars to a wildlife group.
Troy Fairbanks, 57, of Rapid City, was among 30 people and pawn shops indicted in 2017 as part of a two-year federal investigation, dubbed Project Dakota Flyer, into the black market trade of eagle carcasses, eagle parts and feathers. He pleaded guilty in December to wildlife trafficking conspiracy.
Prosecutors say they found more than 100 eagle carcasses or eagle parts in Fairbanks' home.
Eagle heads or wings can fetch hundreds of dollars, though sellers sometimes exchange the eagle parts for other animal parts, such as bear claws, buffalo horn caps or animal hides. The eagle parts are often used in Native American-style handicrafts.
Undercover investigators say the suspects purchased protected bird parts from suspects in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Iowa.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken last week ordered Fairbanks to pay nearly $16,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, on top of a $10,000 fine he has already paid, the Rapid City Journal reported.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of breaking the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Lacey Act, and seven counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — The archbishop of San Francisco performed a short exorcism ceremony Saturday outside a Catholic church where protesters had earlier toppled a statue of Father Junipero Serra, saying the ceremony was intended to drive out evil and defend the image of Serra.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone performed the ritual before some 150 supporters before holding a special Mass inside St. Raphael Catholic Church and an expected march to a Planned Parenthood clinic, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Serra was an 18th-century Spanish missionary priest and the father of the California mission system. The Franciscan priest has long been praised by the church for bringing Roman Catholicism to what is now the western United States, but critics highlight a darker side to his legacy. In converting Native Americans to Catholicism, critics say he forced them to abandon their culture or face brutal punishment.
Depictions of Serra have been protested and vandalized over the years, and Pope Francis' decision in 2015 to elevate him to sainthood reopened old wounds. More recently, protests focusing on the rights and historical struggle of Black and Indigenous people led activists to topple statues of Serra in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles.
San Rafael police say they arrested five people on vandalism charges for knocking over the statue on Monday, leaving just the feet attached to the base. The statue is being repaired and will be returned.
Despite characterizations in popular culture, the newspaper reports that exorcism is more commonly a solemn ceremony to evict the devil or evil spirits from an area or person.
Cordileone said prayers in Latin, remarking that “the experts in the field tell me that Latin tends to be more effective against the devil because he doesn't like the language of the church.''
San Rafael is north of San Francisco, in the county of Marin.