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.
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NOOOOOOOOOOO ! This is NOT a food issue like the salmon fishing priority or something .
This is killing due to psychiatric neurosis ( OK all religious killing is a psychiatric issue ) .
I am just saddened our government has to support these baseless killings .
Kathleen,,,,,, Killing of all mannerisms is a religious temperance bound in moral servitudinal divinity.
Tomorrow if I say gays are against my religion, would all me to kill all gays? "Not that there is anything wrong it", just an example.
Bald eagles are no longer a threatened species. This tribe wants to cull two birds from a thriving population. This is part of the tribe's religion and has been for thousands of years. It wasn't this religious practice that had endangered the eagles, it was overuse of industrial pesticides and destruction of habitat. Everyone wants his/her religious freedoms protected, and this tribe is no different. To Hindus, cows are sacred, but I'd bet that most of the people griping here have no qualms about eating hamburgers or wearing cow leather shoes, belts, or coats. Get a grip, people. By the way, eagles die every day of natural causes, shall we gripe about nature, too?
Human sacrifice has been around longer than animal sacrifice, should we bring that back too? grow up it's 2012!
let kill arapho and i can say that im a native americons that my relisous i wont a permit to kill arapho
This doesn't bother me nearly as much as people who kill simply to stuff an animal and mount it on their wall like a grotesque trophy. Nothing says "home sweet home" like dead animal heads staring at you with glass eyes.
Let the native Americans have their religious ceremony. Just because you don't understand the intent of the ritual, doesn't make it any less sacred to them. So many people in this country are really quick about crying religious persecution, but are just as quick to try and do the same to others.
Yeah, it kills me how many people go out to "hunt" when really they just want to shoot an animal and stuff it to put on their wall as some big deed they did.
If they eat it or make pink slime out of it I think this would probably be OK.
Its a f'ing bird...we kill billions of chickens annually across the globe, yet I don't see you protesting Tyson do I? Who gives a flying F what kind of bird it is. I bet Eagle is tasty too.
Wouldn't it have been smarter to have granted a permit to raise their own birds in captivity, if they wanted to harvest the feathers on an ongoing basis? Feathers grow back...dead birds don't.
The article said the eagle has to be acquired from the wild.
This is NOT about any religious issue – this is plain and simple – the ongoing cruelty, abuse and massacre of animals – world-wide. How deviastating we, as people, can not live without killing harmless beings who are simply trying to live and survive.....and the only reason we do it has nothing to do with anything other than to conquer and rule........this is NOTHING BUT WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
Could not agree with you more!
Here is the link of the "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service" I am told they approved this. The website is
. I am totally against the killing of this bird.
The natural nature of nurturing is yes against unnatural wavelengths of embodying wanton decompositioning practicalites. Humanism has long since been and wittingly become intertwned as the highest of the species in the sportages of death appendaged slayings be it as a conditioning of the human psyche toward the rights to kill due motivating divinations of the spiritually reclusive nature(s). Even GOD executes and/or kiils therefore we follow by the examples of generations passing occupative engenderings. We either kill for the sport or kill to extinguish of socially obtusive and deemed corruptible preclusion.
Again, the incomprehensible stupidity of religions.
Is the our stupid government's way of apologizing to the indians for stealing their country from them? How fkng lame.
Why on earth would we grant anyone the right to kill an American eagle? This country has become a joke catering and pandering to people who don't see the value in what America brings to them. We should all just walk out our doors and shoot ourselves in the leg. What's the difference?
Oh I don't know, maybe because we stole the land that this nation resides on and slaughtered millions of women, children, and elderly through a system of government planned and controled genocide? Just a thought anyway. Go back to Europe where you belong. 🙂
Boo hoo, cdgfla. Harsh reality here, but history is written by the victors. You want to kill an endangered bird, you should have put up a better fight. Too bad.
maybe native americans stole the land from the humans that resided here before them. idiot
Yeah...Whose the idiot here Fool Pull?, Last I checked, the historical and archeological records aren't really replete with examples of human society here long before the indians. Read something you moron, then post when you know what you are talking about.
Uuuumm, no offense but this country has massacred their whole race and their land away. I think we'll be ok if it is a few bald eagles. I mean they were here first.
Hey Huh?. Eagles aren't really endangered anymore. They are thriving now. Idiots that believe in christianity think that a man lived in a whale, that another parted the red sea with his hands, and that another idiot put 2 of every plant and animal species on a boat smaller than a modern aircraft carrier...
Honestly I hope that you and your family are forced from your homes, killed en masse, and made to live on government lands subject to the horrific persecution and state sponsored genocide. Maybe then you will learn compassion for your fellow man. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it happens to you.
cdgfla: I agree with huh?; Boo-Hoo to you. To answer your question, my Doctorate Degree must make me a moron huh? You're the one that needs to research some history books. There are plenty of evidence showing the existance of humans before Native Americans in North America. By the way, calling people "morons" and "idiots" make you look unintelligent, not me.
How about they just use synthetic feathers and we call it good. If they do anything that is not historically accurate during this "ceremony", like use guns, trucks, 4 wheelers, etc. then they are just hypocrites.
Leave the birds, kill off religion...
I wish I'd thought of that!
@John – me too
I want to see the indians do this using a native method, hand made longbow perhaps. Any other way than what their ancestors did would make them hypocrites.
Then I want to see you plow a field with a mule, build a house with a handsaw and wooden hammer, and systematically hunt down and destroy a race of people with a flint lock musket. How'd that be chump?
I agree. If they want to follow their ancient customs require them do so in the ancient way.
@sloop1: The US government does not legislate religious practices. That's one of the legally binding principles of the United States of America. There are, however, some countries in the "middle east" in which the government dictates that type of thing, though (hint: the rest of the countries in the world have a lot of conflict with those countries as a result)
Animal sacrifice as a religious freedom in the US....in 2012!!!!! When is mankind going to wake up and shed primitive religious beliefs.....ALL of them!
We have some real morons making the decisions in our government.
This is not an article about abortion or what happened years ago so let's not bring up how they were massacred. This is 2012 and while we have religious freedom, when did animal sacrifice become ok? This is going a bit far. '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?" ' You can't compare a living creature to bibles and other inanimate objects.
Animals are sacrificed in this country every day. It's called meat.
It flies high. It's closer to the Creator. So let's kill it. So much for the enlightenment of Native Americans.
Thank You Tom , Suz and Eage Eye! I couldn't have said it better
Two less bird flying high and closer to creator !?! Kind of illogical and absurd thinking. Doesn't GOD punish those who kills creatures that fly close him?
I'm against this as well simply because I like Eagles but we take a hypocritical stance with the consumption of cows, sheep, poultry, fish and many other types of animals based on survival. I don't see how we complain about two eagles and at the same time eat a turkey sandwich.. The American Indians should not be put down by this act simply because of their belief system. Personally, I think their religion failed them because they lost their land to the Europeans..Should be proof enough something is not working...
They are killing them for religius reasons, not for consumption.
Neither are necessary. Innocent animals should never be killed, unless there's some sort of life/death self defense situation.
This is pathetic. This bird has a strong meaning to our nation. Its sad to think that the Fed's don't care about the meaning behind the bird or our nation. What gives any human the right to kill an animal for the dumbest purposes.
The question is what gives the feds a right to control what the Indian tribes do? Remember this is their land and the eagle wasn't on the endangered list when they controlled it.
@Suz: Funny you said that because "this bird" has a strong meaning to the native Americans, too - a meaning that existed before the United States did. Interesting concept, huh?