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Miller man pleads not guilty to killing whooping crane, witness tampering

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- A South Dakota man has pleaded not guilty to killing an endangered whooping crane and then persuading a witness to withhold information from law officers.

Twenty-five-year-old Jeff Blachford, of Miller, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and witness tampering. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says Blachford could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Blachford is accused of shooting the crane and a hawk in Hand County in April.

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