FLASHER, N.D. — A Flasher man has been ordered to pay $108,000 for causing the death of six bald eagles on his buffalo ranch on the nearby Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota by misapplying a restricted-use pesticide.
David Alan Meyer, 58, was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $9,800 per eagle in restitution, or $58,000.
The incident dates back four years to March and April of 2016 when South Dakota's U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons said in a release this week that Meyer had supervised the misapplication of 39,000 pounds of Rozol prairie dog bait — a restricted-use pesticide — on more than 5,400 acres of his Meyer Buffalo Ranch.
More than a dozen workers were interviewed and confirmed they were supposed to put the poison in prairie dog holes, but because of the large amount of pesticide and land to cover they got sloppy, Parsons said.
During an investigation, six bald eagles were recovered and confirmed to have died as a result of the poison. An Environmental Protection Agency response team had to be called in to oversee the cleanup of Meyer's ranch land.
"The defendant put the health of workers and wildlife at risk by illegally obtaining and using a restricted-use pesticide," said Lance Ehrig, an acting special agent in charge of the EPA's Denver area office, in the release.
"This case serves as a stark reminder that restricted-use pesticides must be applied by certified personnel and as intended," Ehrig said. "Those who circumvent and ignore the laws that protect public health and wildlife will be held accountable by the EPA and our law enforcement partners."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official Edward Grace added that illegal poisoning can have "a significant impact" on the population of bald eagles.
Meyer was charged and pleaded guilty this past January to charges of unlawful taking of bald eagles, unlawful taking of migratory birds and unlawful use of restricted use pesticide. Parson said he was sentenced earlier this month by federal Magistrate Judge William Gerdes in Aberdeen.
The investigation was conducted by the EPA, the federal wildlife agency. the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.