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Eastern Utah man sentenced to prison for unlawfully killing bald golden eagles

An eastern Utah man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in federal court earlier this year to unlawfully killing bald eagles and golden eagles. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man will spend time in jail after pleading guilty to killing at least 10 federally protected eagles and illegally possessing a firearm.

Michael Earl Yellow, 54, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty in February to being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of unauthorized taking of a eagle. Federal court records show Yellow lives on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in eastern Utah, and the charges were based in Duchesne County.

Yellow was originally charged in 2018 with seven additional counts of unauthorized taking of an eagle, though those charges were dropped as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

The plea agreement states that between August 2014 and August 2015, Yellow killed and possessed at least 10 bald or golden eagles without a permit. Yellow also admitted to owning a Mossberg 702 Plinkster .22 caliber rifle, which was illegal given that he is a convicted felon.

Yellow also confiscated several items from the government as part of the plea deal, including the Mossberg rifle, ammunition, and magazines. He was also required to turn over “four golden eagle carcasses; and an assortment of carcasses, bones and feathers,” the plea agreement reads.

Yellow’s court filing indicates he was in custody during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing. Once his prison term is over, he will not be placed on probation or supervised release. Court records indicate that Yellow will serve his prison sentence in Arizona, Colorado or Florida.

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Jacob Scholl joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. He covers northern Utah communities, federal courts, and technology.

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