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. native84

    European Immigrants:
    We give the NATIVES permission to hunt in their OWN native land.:

    March 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Wow

      I have no problem with them doing this, however history and laws are written by the winners.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Matt

      Not their land anymore. It was taken from them a long time ago. They should feel lucky that they are given concessions now because no one alive had anything to do with taking their ancestral lands.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Cathy

    Perhaps we should have kept the suggested turkey as our national bird. That's what these legislators are acting like. Animal sacrifice is BAD mojo.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • D

      no such thing as "mojo", bad or good.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Michael

      All religion is bad mojo. It just leads to war and fighting. How many millions have died in the name of religion?

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

      Well Turkeys are great too... Where is PETA in all of this. WHERE ARE THEY??? is this just another OBaMa Dictator policy in action? We have got to get rid of this administration and soon.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Larry

    Extinction starts with the death of one......

    March 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Yeah, let's outlaw death.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Simon Says



      Well Turkeys are great too... Where is PETA in all of this. WHERE ARE THEY??? is this just another OBaMa Dictator policy in action? We have got to get rid of this administration and soon.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • DeTamble

      One death is a tragedy.
      A million deaths are a statistic.


      March 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  4. ready


    March 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  5. freeme10

    Since when did people care so much about killing animals?

    March 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  6. Cathy

    Can't believe these permits were granted. This is awful.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Srsly

      Are you serious? I seriously hope you are joking. If not then you can leave this country because these people have been in this country longer than any white, black or Hispanic. We took this land from them with force. You disgust me.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Matt

      @ Srsly – What do you mean "we"? I didn't take their lands. Unfortunate as it is, that's how things were done in the past. The only difference is that if you got your lands taken back then, you had no rights. Unfortunate as it is, Indians today have more rights than any other America citizen. They should count themselves as lucky.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      While I think Cathy is wrong. Srsly, age of tradition doesn't denote correctness.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  7. eye2brain2screen

    "Let them worship another way. We aren't primitive any longer. They shouldn't be able to make me accept this. I don't care if its selfish."

    You have the right to your own opinion so you don't have to accept it but they [Native Americans] still have rights too. And you really should care when you are selfish – especially when you recognize it. Just try to be more considerate Mike S. from Indiana. You live in a country full of people from different cultural backgrounds, embrace it. That's what is so great about America.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jomo

      Personally, say the time of all these preferences for Native Americans is over. It's been abused with tribal casinos, tax fee cigarette sales, etc. Is that for religion too? Injustice was done more than a century ago. It's time for a bunch of lazy heirs to stop living off of that and make a real wage themselves. And to play by the same rules as everyone else!

      March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Matt

      Amen Jomo

      March 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  8. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    I think it's wrong to kill Bald Eagles, even though the white man slaughtered Indians to make this land a venture Capitalist empire couched in the name of Christianity. Instead, the Indians should be allowed to consume Peyote, which affects nobody but themselves. I think they would also come much closer to "seeing" God too.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  9. X

    Superst'itious claptrap. Crossing my fingers and turning around 3 times wishing that folks will get over it SOON.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  10. iBod

    There seems to be that essence of outrage, and if this were asked for seventy years ago, this would have been–killing two bald eagles would have been an outrage. So long as this does not become a habit, I see no wrong in it. It is a Native American tribe, after all–we can trust them when they say it's for religious purposes. If this were Harold Camping asking to kill a pair of bald eagles because he has a sense the world is going to end, he wouldn't be fooling anyone.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  11. Colleen Bengtson

    This is the sickest thing i have ever heard, what is wrong with people today, what religion condones killing eagles? Dont they follow the commandments Thou shalt not kill. I think the people that approved this should be fired immediately. This world is filled with so many sick people i just cant understand it.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • derp

      So I guess you don't eat any meat or fish, wear any leather, or eat eggs?

      March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • asdf

      Ignoring the fact that "thou shall not kill" only applies to killing humans, that was written in the same book of the Bible where that god demanded animal sacrifices (and a whole lot more than two birds).

      March 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Gesus

      Thou shall not kill would be in my make believe book....they read their own make believe book...and smoke signs.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Wow

      no, they don't follow the commandments, they're not Christian or Jewish.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • D

      really? *this* is the sickest thing you've heard of lately?
      also, re: the commandments, you do know that the book those come out of condones sacrificing of animals too, right? right?

      March 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Joe T

      Do you eat? Then you're killing something. Do you wear any clothing at all? Then you're killing something (probably leather, but at a minimum a cotton plant). You're sick and a hypocrite.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • tas72

      Hey Colleen, it is part of their NATIVE AMERICAN religion, not Christianity. Are you aware that there are other religions? Besides, the Ten Commandments applies to people, not animals. I don't agree with killing the eagles, but for crying out loud, assuming that people of a different faith use the same bible as Christians and Jews is unbelievable!

      March 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Michael

      Don't you dare continue with your current argument woman. Read the Bible yourself and you will see there is plenty of animal sacrifice in the name of God.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • steve

      Wow, space, the final frontier........

      March 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      You don't understand it Colleen, because you are stupid and if you read the article your piggy little eyes didn't comprehend what you read.

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

      That commandment is thou shalt not murder in its literal sense(Human Beings). Plus..you are presuming to push your religious views on a culture of people who hold life more sacred than what you find in the Scriptures where God commands women, children, men and animals to be wiped out in retribution for what they did to the Israelite's when they were at they're weakest..read 1 Samuel. Native people normally held a ball game to settle disputes rather than go to war and when they did, it was more honorable to humiliate your enemy by touching them with a short stick than to kill them. Why? That warrior was someones, son, father, grandson, brother etc. Life is sacred.. didn't Jesus have to be killed, "sacrificed" to buy your ticket to heaven?

      March 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  12. kej

    why kill pig then

    March 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Andy

    While i don't condone the killing of any animal unless for food, these people were here long before there was a united states.

    – A

    March 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • plucky

      Well, "my" people have lived on the earth as long as "their" people have. So I want to kill polar bears.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • gstlab3


      March 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • CW

      And you are a hypocrite. I could care less how long someone has been here when that is used to justify unneeded killing.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • D

      "unneeded killing"? oh please, stuff dies all the time "unnecessarily". poor argument!

      March 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • bff

      Unneeded dying and unneeded killing are not the same thing. In the human population, the latter is murder.

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

      well, good thing we aren't talking about killing humans then, eh?

      March 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • bff

      I wonder if that matters to you.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  14. Satros

    Serious mistake to make this a news article. In the least part, you've brought out the trolls, at worst you may have just jeopardized the safety of this tribe. Good job with stirring up the ignorant, no one's going to notice the sensible description of how long it takes to get this permit and the obvious great lengths that are being taken to make sure this is legit and safe, and of course since it's not a western religion it's wrong and horrible.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  15. jet0001

    This is another church vs. state issue – and again the government is siding with the churches, as Obama did when he side-stepped the catholics by shifting responsibility for providing access to birth control to the insurance companies. If no one can hunt eagles by US law, then no religious group should be granted special permission to hunt them.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Simon Says

      So many morons, WOW !!!!

      March 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

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

      Prayer Changes nothing. Use a little Science.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jack

      Furthermore, do you even understand how "Atheism" is defined? I'm sure you believe in one god, but are "Atheistic" or "Don't believe" in many others. The only difference between an Atheist and you is one deity.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • richard in Montana

      But prayer is just another way to stick your head in the sand.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • God

      No it doesn't. I ignore most of you religiots because you are so stupid.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Like rain dances change the weather

      March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • johnp

      Actually I am replying to Jack. Until you go to God humbly and trusting – you will always believe that. I am sorry for your disbelief.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  17. Mike

    I want to know why all these so called journalists constantly write the most misleading headlines. Sell outs

    March 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • momoya

      CNN uses a database of key words that garner the most reaction... This leads to the creation of shrill and misrepresentative ti.t.es.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • momoya

      correction: ti.tles

      March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Khris

      Thank you Mike, I even wrote a post about the author of this and was not posted. However all my other posts have been flying. Eric is ignorant to his own writings, probably didn't do research and googled for his story. I would like to invite ERIC F. to a reservation so he can see and learn from the culture. Ignorance is a huge factor. If there is something I don't have NO idea about, I learn so I do have that understanding and it is not my place to judge how anyone lives or their choices to live. History is always written by the Victor, how often do you read about the losing opposition? ERIC F. I do invite you to learn more, email is valid.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Khris, Check your unposted message for these:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete

      March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Kurt

      The journalist does not write the headline, it's the editor.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Khris

      Helpful Hints Right ok

      March 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Kate

      As a journalist (not with CNN or any affiliate), I can tell you that it isn't always the journalists writing the headlines. Sometimes it's the editors and sometimes it's the online staff wanting to get more hits on the webpages. Don't just place the blame on the writers. News is a business and if news outlets are going to survive, they need the advertisers and the advertisers won't buy space unless the sites are getting hits. You aren't the first to complain about quasi-deceptive headlines and you won't be the last because it's not going to end.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  18. Steve in PA

    If local kids sacrifice chickens as part of their religious beliefs, they are tracked down, fined, adn put on probation or maybe even a few days in jail. But for the symbol of our Country, the Bald Eagle, we can allow their killing just to gain the feathers. Political correctness has allowed us to barter our traditions, history, and legacy. The Feds just can't say no because some people would protest. Ridiculous.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • JustADude

      That's not a fair comparison; the kids didn't ask for permission first.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  19. brooha40

    Here's an idea for PETA.

    have a model covered on Feathers and Drenched in Blood. Then have her mnarch around the front of one of their Casinos.

    Do that PETA and I'll be impressed and Might pay attention to what you have to say.

    March 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  20. J.C.

    I have a friend who lives in Alaska where the eagles are about as plentiful as sparrows. She does not have the greatest love for the Bald Eagle, which kills pets and is a bit of a bad neighbor if it happens to roost near where you live.

    I don't get any more upset over the symbolism of killing a Bald Eagle than I do burning a flag, a religious book, or cross. But I do think it is on par with any animal sacrifice, which I find reprehensible.

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

      The reasons given for killing these 2 eagles was not overpopulation, or even that they kill your pets. It was for some irrationsl religious reason. The point is that the officials gave in to an irrational reason for allowing this to happen. And that is what irks people.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Michael

      I find it reprehensible too, but no more so than what I think when I would read the Bible and see how people did it. All I can really say is so be it.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
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.