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Two Feather-Pluckers Sentenced to Work in Chicken Factory

February 1, 1996

MACON, Ga. (AP) _ Two men who illegally plucked the tail feathers from two golden eagles were sentenced to work in a chicken processing plant.

``You’ll have your fill of feathers _ and, hopefully, you’ll never want to be around another feather in your life,″ U.S. Magistrate Claude Hicks told them Wednesday.

John Kevin Cooper, 24, and Douglas Grant Rustay, 25, were also placed on 18 months’ probation, fined $500 each and ordered to make $600 in restitution.

Cooper, a student, and Rustay, a convenience store manager, were ordered to work a 40-hour week at a chicken plant to help them pay the fine and restitution.

In 1993, the men broke into an eagle cage at a wildlife center and stole the feathers. Possession of golden eagle feathers is a federal offense.

Lawyers for Cooper and Rustay said they were interested in nature and Indian culture and stole the feathers for themselves.

Golden eagle feathers are sacred to Indians.

``It’s like going into a church and stealing the altar,″ said Ernie Dockery, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and commander of the Native American Veterans Warrior Society.

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