Feds grant Native American tribe permit to kill bald eagles for religious purposes
March 15th, 2012
10:33 PM ET

Feds grant Native American tribe permit to kill bald eagles for religious purposes

By Eric Fiegel, CNN

Washington (CNN) - It's the symbol of America, and for the first time, the U.S. government has granted a Native American tribe a permit to kill two bald eagles for religious purposes.

The permit application was filed in 2008 by the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming and, after years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued it on March 9.

"They did make a case for why the take of a bird from the wild was necessary," Matt Hogan, Denver regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, told CNN.

Last year, the tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the federal government for denying the application, saying it "unreasonably burdens the religious rights of tribal members," court documents stated.

The case is pending.

Hogan, who was in charge of granting the permit, says the lawsuit was not the reason the permit got approved when it did. He says it took time to make sure all the criteria were met and that the permit was in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which allows bald eagles to be used by Native Americans in religious ceremonies.

The eagle "flies higher then any other creature. It sees many things. It's closer to the Creator," said Robert Holden, deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians. Holden said he was bothered by the comments he was hearing: that this permit would lead to a mass killing of bald eagles.

"How stupid can that be?" he said. "It's a religion. It's what we do. We're more concerned about the eagle population than any culture in this Western Hemisphere. Why would we want to kill all the eagles?"

Hogan said the permit's issuance will have little effect on the powerful raptor. Taking two eagles from the wild "will not in any way jeopardize the status of the eagle population, either in the state of Wyoming or nationwide," he said, "and the good news is bald eagles are doing quite well."

That wasn't the case some 70 years ago, when the species was threatened with extinction, leading Congress to pass a law prohibiting the killing, selling or possession of the bird. In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the threatened and endangered species list.

Hogan said applications for a permit to kill or capture a bald eagle are rare. Native Americans often have to get bald eagle feathers for their ceremonies from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife national feather repository in Denver. Hogan said it can take years for the tribes to get the feathers this way, because demand often exceeds supply.

Holden, who is part Choetaw/Shickasaw, sought to put some perspective on the situation: "If someone ordered a Bible or some religious artifact and they had to wait for a long time, how fair is that?"

The permit is good until February 2013, and Hogan said he knows of no other applications being filed. As part of permit, the tribe has to notify the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 24 hours once the bald eagles are killed or captured.

Hogan said he is still waiting for that word.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • United States

soundoff (1,883 Responses)
  1. hippypoet

    patriotism is a virtue of the vicious...(oscar wilde)...so lets kill us some bald eagles!

    March 16, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Tony Starx

      I bet the only time you ever heard that quote was from Sean Connery in The Rock. You still sound so smart though.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      good movie, but no... i have read some of ocsar's work before i saw that movie – i even said his name before sean did after the quote. but whatever – like you said, i still sound smart. 🙂 thats because i am.. 🙂 lol

      March 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey "hippy"; get over it. It's their culture and traditions they have the Birth Right to practice before your grandparents set foot on this land to impose their silly WILL on Native Americans a.k.a "the Original Owners of America" of their culture and traditions.

      If your parents failed to tell you this, I will.
      FYI: you're a mere "Settler" in America unless you're a Native American Indian? Head back to your home country of Europe and leave Native Americans alone.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Thor

      Actually, my ancestors have as much of a birthright as theirs. And my ancestors knew them for the skraeling thieves that they remain!

      March 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Walk D. Plank

      %CHE%.... so who were the inhabitants before the Native American Indians arrived? Nobody? I was always educated that they migrated via the Bering Straight from the Russian – Siberian continent. So doesn't that make them mere "Settlers" too. Or is this just a silly game of "I was here first". Aren't we all just caretakers, past and present???

      March 18, 2012 at 4:00 am |
  2. T.I.N.G.

    What if your religion requires you to kill your spouse? Is that okay?

    Leviticus 20:10

    March 16, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jack

      Well actually, if you're a christian, it does require you to kill for certain things. Don't judge another persons religion before you truly understand your own.

      March 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Check that with your Muslim friends.
      The last time we checked, they kill anyone in sight who disagrees with them. Their own babies, children, mothers, women, old ladies and so-called the Koran doesn't count once an assault is lunched.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Thor

      Why kill her? Just get some new ones! More happy tunneling then!

      March 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  3. T.I.N.G.

    Why do most religions require something or someone to be thrown into the volcano so to speak?

    March 16, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Lil

      I would look under non-eastern philosophy.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • brooha40

      GREAT comment?????

      March 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Hello

      it would seem that if gods wanted dead animals they could just go do the job themselves..

      March 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Thor

      Well, the "Native" Americans got all worked up when they tortured their white captives. As a matter of fact, the louder the screams of those white folkds they tortured, the more "power" they felt that they were getting from the "sacrafice". Also, when you sacrafice someone these days, in our "modern" times, make sure you sacrafice someone whose demise gives you and advantage in some way....usually stealing their lands or covering up some crime is a good reason. In this case, they get to "dis" the white American by killing him in effigey, since, the eagle is our symbol.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Thor

      Yes, the spelling is all hosed... oh well, Indians can't read too well anyway.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  4. doctore0

    Nothing should be killed for religious reasons... religion is delusion; Try instead to help the religious person to get out of his/her delusion/brainwashing...

    March 16, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Bob

      Indeed. I'm working at that.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • steve

      Delusion is a state of mind.....

      March 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • answerman28

      exactly we must help them.. this in ONLY way to move forward.

      March 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • KM

      So true. Religion is a state of mind. Not something real.

      March 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Hello

      for a interesting read on the subject READ
      The Golden Bough by James Frazer...you can read it free on the web.. goggle it.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  5. Doc Vestibule

    I sifted through the OT for instructions on how to properly sacrifice an eagle, but I could only find guides for goats, calves and children. Is it seven drops of blood on the altar for raptors too, or just ungulates?
    They should take a cue from the Catholics and start believing in transubstantiation – that way a bucket of KFC can magically become a bald eagle.

    March 16, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Bob

      Good Morning, Doc. Just stunning the supersti-tions that people will fall for, and that they'll do whatever their particular priest's interpretation of their particular holy book of gobbledysqwak tells them to do. A friend and I were once going to start a religion that had demands such as that folks pray standing on their heads while holding carrots in their noses. It probably would have attracted quite a few believers who would then give us all their assets.


      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.

      March 16, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Isn't SINFUL to sacrifice a baby?
      For what sin has a baby committed to be sacrificed?

      March 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Thor

      My ancestors worshipped the phallic part of the human anatomy. I pay homage to the happy one by simulating his coming home into the wet and pink Asgardian burying ground. After some ritualistic thrusting of the spear of happiness, I deposit an offering of life to the end of the holy place for the springing forth of new life. It's an explosive event.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Thor

      Many speak in toungues that sound like moans and panting during the ceremony.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 16, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • think for yourself

      Funny you say atheism isn't healthy to "other living things", when religion is the very reason that these guys are going to kill 2 eagles.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Religion starts wars

      Funny you say atheism isn't healthy to "other living things", when religion is the very reason that these guys are going to kill 2 eagles.

      That's definitely the best response ever to this broken record. Classic.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Lil

      I don't like prayer is at all effective.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Lil

      I don't think prayer is at all effective… unless it is done en masse at your local chapel on a Sunday.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!! .....

      March 16, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Atheism doesn't sacrifice people,

      but maybe we should make you the first 🙂

      March 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Hello

      if that is so, then why are all humans born atheist and also all other species on the planet?

      got proof dinosaurs believed in gods?

      March 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey buddy, is that you gain? You always find a way to show up on CNN blog. How U be?

      You bet your ASS, prayer changes things. You just have to BELIEVE! And the operative word is "BELIEVE" in the Lord, God for your prayers to be answered.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Thor

      That's why I worship my phallus!

      March 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer works. The famed Christian rock band DEVO would like to teach you all about it.


    March 16, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      You did happen to note this is a Christard Rock Band...right? Thus, we expect them to agree with you!! They, like you, prove nothing!

      March 16, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • just sayin'

      I use my praying hands every day. Many times. If you watched the video, you would understand.

      March 16, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Too bad you're not using those hands for anything useful. I don't need to watch a video to know what they are saying. I still dismiss it as a fallacy and waste of time. You have nor solid evidence for any of your beliefs...none of what you believe is based on any fact, only your personal faith and that counts for nothing in this world. Scientific evidence counts for more than anything you believe in.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer really changes things

      March 16, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Religion starts wars

      Now the song "Whip it" makes sense. I had no idea that it was a Christian song. Whip your children. Whip your slaves. I get it.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • AGuest9

      If priests would have "Whipped it", maybe they wouldn't have molested so many little boys.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things,
      Proven ."

      You've been proven a LIAR over and over again on this blog.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • BigRed

      Love DEVO. I do like the way they pray!

      March 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Hello

      Joe Atwill... can teach you a better lesson on myth believing.. READ Caesar's Messiah..

      March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  8. leo

    The simple fact is if we wanted a "bible" they crank up the old printing machine and shove it out on anything that ink will have adhesion to. this is a living creature, our bibles are not inked to the fresh tanned skin of 1,000 baby seal and not even one. I say they should wait for their feathers to drop or better yet start looking at turkey =).

    March 16, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Bob

      leo, as bad as this allowed killing of eagles is for no valid purpose, your bible actually demands senseless animal sacrifice very explicitly, and for no useful purpose whatsoever. Christianity is plainly and obviously an even worse superstition than that of the tribe in the article. Christian god according to your horrid, evil book of nasty, a.k.a the bible, demands far worse than what this tribe does, including rape, and murder – even murder of children.

      The bible is very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes your sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Marcus

      Didn't they just put the finishing touches on an ornate Bible recently done in the old style, kind of like the Book of Kells? That archival paper, as well as that of most Tora scrolls and old books, is sheep skin, not plant fibers. They might not have been baby seals, but they were something warm, furry, and very much alive.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  9. just sayin

    Changes prayer things.

    Truthy. Stinken.

    Atheism is not perpendicular to anorexic penguins singing hare krishna man you shoulda seen 'em kicking Edgar Allen Poe

    My brane gone to goo. Prayer did that, changed things.

    March 16, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Hello

      the only thing a prayer changes is a person in to a helpless boob...

      thinking minds change things not praying hands.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  10. tallulah13

    I make no secret about my atheism, but since my right not to believe is protected by the same Consti.tution that protects freedom of others to worship as they will, I can't argue too hard against this. The bald eagle is no longer endangered, and this is a regulated situation. Also, I am a carnivore. It would be highly hypocritical of me to complain about the death of two birds after I ate sesame chicken for dinner.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • Nii

      Sesame chicken does not contain sesame seed does it? Of course if it does it makes you an omnivore like the rest of us. Lol

      March 16, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • just sayin

      President George H W Bush said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be considered a citizen of America. We are one nation under God.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • AGuest9

      President George H W Bush gave the world his moronic son. Need we think twice about HIS character?

      March 16, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • answerman28

      Tolereance is not the answer. We need to ban religionsall together. I do hear your argument about being a carnivor but they dont plan on eating the birds. Just destroy them for some lie in the sky tradition.. what a waste. Not to mention the eagle they kill might be a female that has hungry chicks that cant fend for themselves yet.. which will also surely die.

      March 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • answerman28

      @ just sayin.... Bush is an imbecile.. nuff said

      March 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hello

      the word worship is an obscene term to me... nothing brings a person closer to slavery than to worship something...

      March 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @AGuest9, don't believe ANYTHING any of the BUSHES says or tells you.
      They're crooks and sinful as the devil, Lucifer himself. Just look how they have turned this peaceful World upside down. Not only that; imbecile GWB is "F-Grade" from Yale University and a pothead.
      Does crackhead Bush-Twin Daughters ring a bell?
      Sad to say though; it’s better to believe in a bird than any of the BUSHES you worship or their ideologies.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |


    March 16, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • steve

      If only Custer had brought along the gatling gun..sigh

      March 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Khris

      You mean if he only had a brain

      March 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Bryan

      Steve...perhaps they think "If only the plague wiped them all out..."

      You are a waste of life.

      March 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Thor

      A Noid Indian; oops! guess you missed the memo! Indians are subject to the treaties that us white folk made you sign under the threat of annihilation. Guess the real "locals" were gitten tired of your grandpappas raping and torturing their neighbors. And those druken parties where you shot up all of your ammo didn't help either. Sorry, I don't feel ANY remorse for the American Indian who descended from those ba$turds!

      March 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  12. Get Over It

    Hell no, Arapho
    No bald eagle for your show!

    March 16, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey, "SETTLER" in America, head BACK to Europe where you came from. Will ya?

      March 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  13. The Almighty Narshlaug

    Narshlaugs change things. Proven.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • O.S. Bird


      March 16, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  14. Mary Ritgert

    why cant the Bal eagles that have been killed by the windmills the government saves them use those feathers dont shoot a beautiful animal souring freely in the sky its murder and it makes me sick

    March 16, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I shot hogan but I didn't shot the bald eagle

      March 16, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Bob Marley

      I shot the sheriff
      but I did not shoot the deputy

      March 16, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • Marcus

      Tell me, does it sour like milk or apples? If the coin landed on tails, the turkey would have been the national bird, eagles would still be endangered, you'd have to settle for eating ham (still an obomination according to the Bible) for Thanksgiving dinner, and you wouldn't care a lick about this.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  15. Mary Ritgert

    I find this is not right as a friend mentioned many Bald Eagles have been killed by by the hands of humans to use Windmills for energy ,they save them why cant they be used rather than murder a innocent bird souring in the freedom of the sky just saying theres gotta be another way ,why do they have to kill them use the reserve the humans have killed from these windmills

    March 16, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  16. HotAirAce

    As a Canadian I am somewhat offended because I recall reading an article that said there are Bald Eagles in the US today, to a large extent, because of conservation activities in Canada. As an atheist, I definitely hate to see a living creature die because of silly myths. But if the Bald Eagle approaches extinction in the US again, I'm confident will we help to re-establish them again.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • captain america

      Bull sh it .There's your sign.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • ...

      Captain Ass aka Just Sayin aka Atheism is Not Healthy is a STUPID NON-AMERICAN. It has a grade 3 education because it kept failing science and geography.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • .....

      Bull sh it to you dots, prove it canadian !. There's your sign

      March 16, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • ...

      Captain Ass...prove you are!! You can't be an American or you would NEVER give your country such a distasteful name...no good American does that. Stop picking on the country that helps your country the most...you are an ignorant, uneducated goof!!! Go back to school and learn something...the church has failed you!

      March 16, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • captain america

      No one is picking on Canada,the country. The atheists from canada are undermining the fabric of America. Canada as a nation is a God fearing country, the issue here is low end canadian atheist wanna bees running their mouths as if they were Americans and we valued their opinions. I ain't about to let some godless foreigner tell me how to think and we got no use for godless homegrown either.There's your sign

      March 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • captain america

      By the way i don't need to prove sh it to you. What mouthwash do you use to get the stench of the canadian butt you've been kissing out of your mouth? There's your sign

      March 16, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Cap'n Sayin Atheism Isn't An Angry Pervert
      I would like to extend to you a cordial invitation to my city this summer.
      You can come join the biggest Gay Pride parade in the world, then relax in the Hotbox Cafe and smoke a joint on the chesterfield. Grab a serviette, order some poutine and you'll feel much better, eh.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Baiting or otherwise toying with Captain A33hole should be declared "unsporting behaviour not becoming of a Canadian" – it is just too easy. I am so glad he lives somewhere south of the 49th – my condolences to his fellow Americans.

      March 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  17. Reality

    Killing for religious purposes? That just adds more credence to the significant stupidity of all religions.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    O.S., are you familiar with the Arapaho? What can you tell us all about them and their traditions?

    March 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  19. Portland tony

    Knowing nothing of the long held traditions of the Northern Arapaho, I find it hard to comment on this blog. If the killing of Several Bald Eagles fulfils their religious needs, so be it. It probably makes more sense to them than some of the rituals carried out by our western religions.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You'd have to ask O.S. Bird about it. It seems to think it's got the inside track here.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Hello

      why can't they just use illegals for muzzys instead of those beautiful birds?

      March 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Much as I would like to side with the Native Americans, I just can't. I find this sad and pathetic.

    A year or so ago, I visited a pueblo in New Mexico. The inhabitants refuse to allow their language to be recorded in written form. They live in squalor and take pride in their "traditions."

    I could see no nobility in their ideals. I see none in this miscarriage of justice, either.

    March 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      I doubt they see any nobility in your ideals either. I also doubt that they care what you think of their living conditions.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Never said they did.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah. Crickets chirping. That's pretty much what I expected from a fucling azz like O .S. Birdsh!t.

      March 16, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No one cares about me.

      March 16, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Loreeeeeeeeeeeeeeebee

      Who are you to judge them?

      March 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • steve

      Your idea of nobility is not theirs. The problem with our world. Those folks in the pueblo are happy. You probably think folks in the middle east need emocracy too

      March 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, I don't think anyone needs "emocracy." Whatever that is.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.