David Alan Meyer, of Flasher, North Dakota, who has been a well-known buffalo rancher on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation that straddles the South Dakota-North Dakota border, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Aberdeen to killing six bald eagles in South Dakota by the misuse of a prairie dog bait/pesticide on his vast ranch in early 2016
He agreed to pay $58,800 for their deaths, or $9,800 per eagle, and a $50,000 fine.
Meyer, 58, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gerdes in Aberdeen on Thursday, Jan. 30, and pleaded guilty to three charges of killing a total of six eagles in March and April of 2016. It happened in Corson County, South Dakota, which is on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and borders North Dakota and borders the west bank of Lake Oahe/Missouri River.
Meyer admitted he bought a large amount of Rozol, used to kill prairie dogs by placing it down their burrows, but used it improperly.
In his statement to the court in pleading guilty, Meyer said he arranged for Mark Meyer to ship 40,000 pounds of Rozol, used to kill rodents with an anticoagulant, to his ranch. The EPA label on Rozol requires a certified applicator and David Meyer admits he is not certified. The EPA also directs users to use it only underground and to regularly check on it and bury any dead animals.
U.S.Attorney Ron Parsons, top federal prosecutor for South Dakota, announced Meyer’s guilty plea on Friday, Jan. 31, in a news release.
Meyer said from March 1-14, 2016, he hired workers, mostly members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, to help him dispense the poison, but Meyer and his workers “became sloppy” and put it on the surface of the ground near prairie dog holes over 5,400 acres, Meyer admitted.
Predators, such as eagles, picking up a prairie dog weak or dead from Rozol, can get poisoned from eating the rodent.
According to news reports, buffalo on Meyer’s ranch also were found dead and federal officials put hundreds of bison under quarantine after a joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency investigation determined what Meyer had done.
For years, Meyer owned the historic Cannonball Ranch where he’s run buffalo, but reportedly sold it in 2017 to the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which crosses the ranch, according to news reports.
He also apparently bought some of the former Wilder Buffalo Ranch that sprawls across much of the Standing Rock reservation.
Pierre attorney Bradley Schreiber is representing Meyer, who is slated to be sentenced on April 2. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan Dilges is prosecuting Meyer.
The maximum penalty facing Meyer is a year in prison and a year on supervised release. The prosecutor agreed to recommend probation for Meyer in return for his timely guilty plea and his agreement to pay $58,800 in restitution plus a $50,000 fine, according to court documents.