Calgary Herald

Four face charges after eagle feathers seized

- SHERRI ZICKEFOOSE SZICKEFOOS­E@CALGARYHER­ALD.COM TWITTER: GIRLREPORT­ER

Four Albertans and a business are facing wildlife traffickin­g charges as a result of an undercover operation that began two years ago.

Alberta wildlife officials armed with search warrants Thursday raided two homes on the Stoney reserve west of Calgary, and shut down a St. Albert pawnshop.

Officials are saying little about the investigat­ion but seized illegal eagle feathers and removed dozens of one family’s possession­s, leaving them confused and angry, according to a family member.

“They’re taking feathers and artifacts. There’s a sundance staff my brother uses at powwows. My parents have had these for 30 to 40 years,” said the daughter of a couple whose Bear Hill Road home was searched.

A resident of Red Deer has also been charged and a vehicle was seized.

Officials took eagle feathers and other objects, said Darcy Whiteside, a spokesman for Alberta Sustainabl­e Resources.

“Illegal traffickin­g of eagle parts is a concern,” said Whiteside, adding selling illegal wildlife is second only to drug traffickin­g in Alberta.

The suspects are charged with unlawful possession and sale of birds of prey.

Officials said the investigat­ion is ongoing.

Court appearance­s are scheduled for March 10 in St. Paul, March 18 in Cochrane, and March 21 in Red Deer.

If convicted, the suspects could be fined and jailed. The maximum penalty for traffickin­g wildlife is $100,000 and two years in jail.

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