RENO, Nev. – A 30-year-old Arizona man has been arrested in Nevada on charges accusing him of killing two federally protected golden eagles and illegally possessing more than 120 individual eagle and hawk feathers that he reportedly told authorities he kept for religious ceremonies.
Dana McIvor faces six counts of unlawful possession of raptor and raptor parts, and one count of unlawful kill of an eagle, Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Joe Doucette said Tuesday.
McIvor is a Native American who is a member of the Ojibwe tribe in Canada and listed his address as the Navajo reservation in Red Mesa, Arizona, Doucette said. He could face additional federal charges on top of the seven current state misdemeanor counts, each of which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
"The investigation is continuing. More than likely there will be federal charges or possibly other states filing charges," Doucette told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
McIvor was arrested in Elko, Nevada, on Sunday after local authorities searched his car following reports of a reckless driver on U.S. Interstate 80.
Police and sheriff's deputies seized a .17-caliber bolt-action rifle, spent cartridges, two dead eagles, a dead hawk, two complete wings from recently killed hawks, and 124 separate eagle and hawk feathers. They said the seized raptors and their parts could be worth as much as $10,000.
"McIvor admitted to keeping the raptor parts for religious celebrations," said Quinn Hesterlee, a game warden for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Another person was with McIvor at the time of his arrest but has not been charged, Doucette said.
Elko County Undersheriff Clair Morris told the Elko Daily Free Press that McIvor allegedly admitted to killing at least one of the birds in Nevada. He was released from the Elko County Jail on Monday after posting $5,370 bail.
McIvor could not be reached immediately for comment. There's no record of him having hired an attorney, a jail spokesman said Tuesday. His arraignment on state charges is pending.
Nevada Department of Wildlife Game Warden Quinn Hesterlee said eagle feathers often are sold and traded illegally to be used in Native American celebrations, as well as sold for profit in international markets. Individuals must obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to legally possess raptors or raptor parts, he said.
The federal agency provides such feathers to tribes legally through the National Eagle Repository. Nevada is among states that annually transfer killed and euthanized raptors to the repository, Hesterlee said.
"It's unfortunate that these amazing birds get killed each year for religious celebrations when there are perfectly legal ways to obtain them," he said.