Supply meets demand, even in the illicit trade of bald eagle body parts. The question isn’t only “who buys them,” but “who in their right mind sells them?”
Whether the stereotype is right or wrong, most Americans would think Native Americans, above all others, would hold the bald eagle in high regard and be at the forefront of their conservation and protection.
That doesn’t hold true for one member of the Standing Rock and Lower Brule Sioux tribes. Troy Fairbanks, the 54-year-old owner of a Native American dance company, was arrested by federal authorities in April and faces numerous charges, including conspiracy to traffic wildlife.
According to reports, agents of the US Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated Fairbanks for a year and a half. On one occasion in February 2017, an undercover agent met with Fairbanks in his home to see what he had to offer in way of bald eagle body parts. Fairbanks was selling eagle wings, heads, talons and feathers. The agent bought various parts for $800.
Fairbanks now faces 25 years in federal prison and a $2 million fine. According to the indictment, during the course of the investigation he sold agents thousands of dollars in eagle parts.
The Miami Herald reports there were 15 people involved in the ring, with Fairbanks at the top of the list. Hardboiled News reports two of his sons, Troy Young Fairbanks and Majestic Fairbanks, were also arrested.
According to National Geographic, the criminal trafficking of eagle parts is detrimental to both the bald eagle population and the golden eagles as well.