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. Quasi


    March 17, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Christian

      Sorry, but if you are looking for Christians, the lights are on, but nobody is home.

      March 17, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  2. Theism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Eagles for example.

    March 17, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  3. bigjip

    hmm guess im done buying their stuff in protest

    March 17, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  4. john

    why is it society only expects Christianity to evolve with modern times and not other religions. I don't consider myself Christian mind you.

    March 17, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 17, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • mandarax

      ...it reinforces the delusion.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:59 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 17, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Religion starts wars

      Religion is the reason why two eagles might die.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  6. Cowcharge

    Give them a permit only if they can find two eagles who volunteer.

    March 17, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • Kevin

      Agree 100%

      March 17, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  7. Cowcharge

    I worship Zool, and therefore want a permit from the government to "take" (euphemisms don't change the fact that you're KILLING) a virgin. And it sure as hell will "jeopardize the status" of those two eagles. Get out of the dark ages why don't you.

    March 17, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  8. Ted

    They kill eagles because they fly the highest and are the closest to the creator. So, we know that the creator is in the troposphere and maybe we should let them shoot down a couple planes or better yet, some satellites. Oh, If only arrows could reach the moon then they could shoot it down and rub lunar dust on their bodies and hit one another in the head with moon rocks. Only then will God like you make it rain for your thirsty crops. Yes I know, my white ancestors were really mean and we should cherish their culture. But I doubt that the success of their ritual is contingent on the specific feathers of dead birds. We have laws that protect nature for a reason and they shouldn't be discarded for some ridiculous religious ritual. Maybe we should let some people sacrifice children because their great great great grandparents were aztecs. Just because something is religious does not mean we have to respect it. Lets be rational people.

    March 17, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Thor

      My ancestors worshipped the penis and women were considered holy people (witches). And rabbits were gods. They also had countries of slaves (Yugoslavia, for example...) from where they had ample resources to sell to the Arabs. I think I'm gonna have the Fed permit me to take a Yugoslavic city of women and sell them to some Muslim friends in the Phillipines, so that I can have enough money to build a "New Church of the Penis" and make people worship me.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  9. IslandAtheist

    Animal sacrifice in the 21st century?... that's stupid.

    March 17, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Twisty Turny

      That's not stupid . . . it's lunch!

      March 17, 2012 at 4:46 am |
  10. pam

    Ha it for religion? Than 9-11 was ok too.

    March 17, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • BAMAWV#1

      Let me guess- a teacher?

      March 17, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • ill

      9/11 wasnt about religion really
      they hate the way our system works and the small group sees the world trade centers as a part of it..
      they been trying to blow up those buildings for a long time.. dont see why people were so surprised.
      cant really blame them for hating our system though, mitt romney is actually seen as a contender for president by more then some THE FUGG?!?

      March 17, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      How can you possibly say 9/11 wasn't about religion? Religion was the foundation and the means by which those acts were organized. They didn't yell, "localized non-capitalistic economies are great" when they committed those acts, they yelled "God is great."

      March 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Quasi


      March 17, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  11. kpete

    If they were turkey vultures, would everyone be okay with it? That's what I thought. Everyone needs to calm down.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • AGuest9

      Yes, because turkey vultures are ugly!

      March 17, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Nii

      Funny but kpete is the spelling for vulture in my mother tongue's syllabic script.

      March 17, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  12. mickey1313

    SHAME ON CNN. The headline said ...grants premit to shoot bald eagles. It does not mention native americans, and anyone who has passed elementry already knew that native americans can get permits to take eagle lives. Stupid sinsationalism.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Daughter of the Morning Star

      No, they cannot. The repository has been the only place a registered member of federally recognized tribe could obtain the needed feathers or other parts of the eagle. Permits have to be filed and it is a long and painfully slow process.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  13. Kristin

    I kind of think it is the least we could do for them seeing as how we stole their land, gave them blankets covered in disease, hooked them on alcohol, massacred the buffalos, do I need to go on?!? Oh, I forgot the whole slaughtering them for their lands thing.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • BAMAWV#1

      Kristin, I have not slaughtered anyone . I strongly doubt any of my friends have slaughtered anyone. Maybe you should chose your friends more carefully. But I have to admit, you sound a lot more fun than the 'run of the mill' girls around here.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Ted

      Yea, I don't remember doing any of that. However, I do remember that other people did that a long time ago. Also, I do not own a bald eagle or better yet bald eagles in general. I simply support the effort that lets them exist as I would like any effort that would support my existence. Basically, you think that we should give something that does not belong to us as an apology to the wrong people for something we didn't do. This is old people baggage. stop carrying it.

      March 17, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Allright Then

      So your idea of balancing the great cosmic slate with Native Americans is to give them a couple feathers? You must have been on the team that negotiated the purchase of Manhattan from the Lenape tribe.

      March 17, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • JLS

      Kristin, Thank you, my thoughts exactly! I am 1/4 Americian Indian (Cherokee), and I am really appalled that no one had the guts to say what you did.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I guess False Dick is annoyed because I pummeled him at some other juncture on the boards. Funny that he had no argument to post.

    Not really. Par for the course where impotent little boys are concerned.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      Wow, Tom, you don't really cope with criticism very well huh? Try to get a hold of yourself.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  15. Reality

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


    March 17, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  16. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I suggest if a human is needed for a sacrifice, consider Falsies. Not much use for anything else, and probably fatter than a blood-filled tick.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Love how False Boobs responded. Truly entertaining.

    When you have a point other than the one on yer little tin-foil chapeau, dearie, alert the media. Thanks in advance, sweetie. *Smooches*

    March 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  18. Heather

    Im against animals being killed for religious purposes, regardless of the reason or who wants to do it.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • BAMAWV#1

      That'll be kind of hard to put on a bumper sticker. How's "I'm against regardless"?

      March 17, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  19. Eyeforaneye

    As is everything in society ropeadope, you have a right to you opinion, they have a right to theirs, you don't care about religion, they don't care about you...get over it...just as you expect them to. lol

    March 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  20. ropeadope

    Religion, any religion, is nonsense, it is harmful, and it needs to be stopped.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • BAMAWV#1

      90% of the country believe in a higher power, but if some guy named ropeadope says they are wrong,– well that settles it!

      March 17, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • ill

      90% arent wrong so to say, its not their fault they are brainwashed from a young age...

      March 17, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Cowcharge

      So Bama, you're claiming that 90% of the population is delusional enough to run their lives by comic books? Wow, how depressing. I had more hope for humanity than that.

      March 17, 2012 at 6:53 am |
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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.