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Philadelphia, MS Pawn Shop Owner Sentenced for Selling Eagle Feathers


April 23, 2008


Tom R. MacKenzie (404) 679-7291,

On April 18, 2008, A Philadelphia, Mississippi, pawn shop owner, Willis R. McKee, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Jackson to a misdemeanor count of selling a Native American dance bustle made with bald eagle feathers. McKee was sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge James C. Sumner to pay fines totaling $5,050.00 and to serve probation until such fines were paid. The eagle feather bustle and other illegal wildlife items were forfeited to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

An investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement documented that on October 28, 2006, McKee sold the eagle feather bustle for $534.99, in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The investigation also documented that McKee offered to sell other Native American ceremonial items made with Canada goose and turkey vulture feathers in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. McKee had obtained the illegal items from a customer of his pawn business.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work closely with the state and tribal authorities to enforce laws and regulations to prevent the unlawful commercialization of eagles and protected migratory birds,” said John Rawls, Special Agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with assistance from the Wildlife and Parks Department and Police Department from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian Reservation, and the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.

For more information about federal laws governing hunting migratory birds, visit

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