PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A Pennington County businessman who operated a Native American dance service has been sentenced for his role in conspiring to illegally traffic in federally protected wildlife such as eagles and hawks.
Troy Fairbanks, 57, of Rapid City received five years of probation and ordered to pay $15,816 in restitution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as $100 to the federal crime victims fund.
Fairbanks is the latest of several dozen people convicted from the federal government’s Project Dakota Flyer investigation. According to the office of US Attorney Ron Parsons, 29 defendants from the probe have been sentenced, resulting in $56,000 in fines and $196,546 in restitution.
The criminal charge against Fairbanks was that he conspired with his sons and others to traffic in wildlife, specifically bald and golden eagles, various species of hawks, and 15 other bird species, as well as parts of those birds.
According to the US attorney’s announcement, Fairbanks is owner and operator of a Native American dance business called Buffalo Dreamers. He reportedly bought, sold, traded, and bartered eagles and hawks and their parts on numerous occasions between July 17, 2014, and February 11, 2016.
“Fairbanks sold and traded hundreds of eagle feathers, as well as eagle wings, eagle heads,
eagle claws, raptor claws, hawk feathers, and parts from other CITES I protected birds. The National Fish and Wildlife Forensic lab conducted DNA testing of the carcasses, parts, and feathers recovered through these purchases and after a search warrant conducted at Fairbanks’s home. The DNA testing revealed at least 112 eagles passed through his home during the investigation,” the announcement said.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Kelderman and Meghan Dilges prosecuted the Fairbanks case.