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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Just another reason why religion should just go away...it just does too much harm.
I wish they had applied to kill two white-eyes. It's not like they are in danger.
Same with atheism – just does too much harm.
So let's get this straight: a white guy goes hunting in the woods and kills an animal for sport and it's okay, but a native american goes into the woods, kills a creature and attaches a deeper spiritual meaning to it and somehow that's wrong?
You guys are weird.
Spirituality makes people think things are icky.
I think killing for sport is just as irrational as killing for religious reasons. And even more so for endangered species.
its wrong if its a bald eagle. white people dont try to kill bald eagles for sport. and native americans could kill all of the same animals white people do for sport for their religious reasons. there is no discrimination here. white people cant kill bald eagles either.
There in no reason for this permit. In America thousands of eagles have been slaughtered by wind turbines and more are being slaughtered every year. There are more than enough bodies and feathers to go around. They should be stopped at any cost. This permit to kill may actually be linked to a future Wind farm installation that will kill eagles in Wyoming. It sets a terrible precedent.
This has to be a joke. Killing a bird for religion? Really? How dumb is religion?
Yeah, almost as dumb as eatign the flesh of a zombie every Sunday.
I completely agree with the decision to issue the permit for 2 eagles for religious purposes. That's a modest accommodation compared to the widespread sacrificial religious animal offerings in Santaria or abatoir practices in Judaism or Islam that affect millions of animals. And surely the symbolism of eagle feathers as a way to commune with the Creator isn't all that different with Christianity's use of bread and wine to represent the body and blood of Christ. Religions adhere to whacky things and if you have a problem with Native American's practicing theirs, perhaps it might make you stop and think what bizarre ceremonies you participate in.
Word home slice.
That isn't a reason to support this permit...it is a reason to question these other practices.
We have to get rid of this "christian-like" idea that we can sacrafice some innocent living creature for the sins of others, as you are suggesting in your idea of a modest accommodation.
Native Americans have practiced customs such as this long before 1492.This is their land,remember!
No. It is not their land. They were unable to defend and retain it and at times not only not strong enough but not smart enough. This is a ridiculous situation(killing the eagles)
I just widh that all this crap that hides behind the mask of "religion" goes away. Doesn't the Taliban kill for "honor" and religion? Wasn't it said that 9/11 was carried out because of religion–a religious duty to :kill the infidel?"
So what the heck do bald eagles have to do with religion, becasue they fly high and closer to God? BULLSH__T!
I just widh ..................
I will have to twy that.
The highest flying bird in North America is not the Bald Eagle. It is the mallard duck. Robert Holden is just making stuff up to sound poetic.
In his defense I think this reference is talking about on average, as a species. Ducks don't normally fly that high...the mallard that was recorded as flying at 21000ft and hitting a plane was an unusual case. The rest of the basis for the request I have real problems with though.
Meh, I don't see how this is different from a Christian wanting a leather bound bible. Non-issue. If the eagles aren't threatened anymore and analysis shows that losing two doesn't have an impact then give them up. We kill animals all the time for food and clothing. Let the Native Americans keep what's left of their culture.
I agree. They should take out a wagon train or two as well.
The tyranny of the minority strikes again. Reminds me of when they let eskimos kill endangered whales for their "culture" .
Fried or barbequed, bald eagle is delicious. It tastes like FREEDOM!
Did anyone discuss this with the eagles? This might go against their religion. I'd be curious to hear what their take is on this decision.
I figured the eagles would have brought something up in the public forum that was held to ask the cows and pigs how they felt about being butchered.
Hmmm...American Indians have the right to kill the American symbol of stregnth and freedom...I don't think so!!! We as AMERICANS won the right to protect the Eagle...our government (Feds), best step up to the plate and do the right thing and keep protecting it. If you do not stop this immediately it will open the door for American Indians across the country to seek permisison to kill our beloved symbols of freedom...mass killings of this bird will be it's demise. This is not about religion, too many groups are using the word religion to get their way...Indians are symbolic, not religious. Good grief, what is our world comming to?
If they were White Man Religious practices ( Christian etc.) their wouldn't be a problem..hypocrites!! from a Whiteman in NC..Live and Let Live...Red Man has been persecuted in this land worse than the Black or Yellow man..Wake up intolerant idiots!!..what's next a PETA Protest? get a Life..
Of Course the fact that we killed countless native americans and carved our presidents into their sacred black hill mountains plays no part in your conversation. Have some respect for both since you respect your own heritage so much.
You are nuts. Native Americans were here first and we conquered ad oppressed them – deal with the fall out.
Eagles were doing when there were just Native Americans here because they only killed what they needed. Eagles and bison and other animals only became endangered after Europeans moved here, called themselves Americans and started killing them sport.
This is such BS, Use Synthetic feathers, Leave mother nature alone, She has a hard enough job as it is!!!
Please read about the National Eagle Repository here: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/law/eagle/
Then read a 2009 article about the 6,000 requests that were pending: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13242945
why can't these indians just create a cheesey casino like the rest of them do?? this is so ridiculous... Obama, please tell me it's a joke. why can't we just kill two indians as a sacrifice?
All they want is two Eagles! The Bald Eagle is no longer on the decline. Do some research! It wasn't the Native Americans who brought the Eagle to near extinction.
It wasn't the Native Americans who brought the Eagle to near extinction. you are correct but it was our country that did what was needed in order to bring them back from near extinction was it not? and now you think it is ok to allow them to kill these birds? Sorry but I don't agree any one should kill them.
ah another great obama decision
yet if he were to stiffle your religious beliefs, you would be mad as hell.... it goes both ways. No religion is more superior than another. Our government caves to Christianity all the time. Religious Freedoms applies to ALL
Ok, so you fully read this article, and your take on it, was Obama personally made this decision? This is an article about religious rights, and has no political content. Why insert political content when none is needed?
My moron count is off the scale today !
ah another great obama decision
It seems confusing that a religion, any religion would be justification for killing, killing any living thing. I understand the heritage and the significant emotional connection to the eagle's powers, but again, justifying the killing and having government approve it – something just doesn't seem right.
totally w/ you on this one. killing for religion isn't religion and that goes for all of them. people are such a joke.
Seriously? Have you never read the Bible? Its full of animal sacrifice!
Yeah, white men used to kill Native Americans for THEIR religion. Hey, it's what we do!
I assure you, there were more American Indians back then, then there were Bald Eagles. It was not a threat to their survival either. If you want to go with that argument.