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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Eventhough the tribes want to kill for religious reasons – the issue is not religion so you atheists (who are so logical) need to get a grip. This is an issue about wildlife management and the rights of Native Americans which I will remind you that the US govt oppressed.
Defeated, NOT oppressed. Afterwards, they should have cleared the land of these bug eaters.
"We're more concerned about the eagle population than any culture in this Western Hemisphere."
Really! My culture doesn't believe in killing any bald eagles at all.
In some Native American cultures counting coup was popular. It was more prestigious to touch your enemy than to kill him. That would be more appropriate in the case of bald eagles too.
Whoever authorized thie is a sick f*** !!
So....Its OK for devil worshipers to kill human babies now?
They only want to kill 2 Eagles. Would you miss them?
if you were ki11ed for religious reasons.. would you be missed?
Does this tribe own any "gaming establishments" and therefore receive all the perks of the Native American tax codes for such? If so, they should be required to make a very hefty and substantial donation to the Fish and Wildlife Fund in return for their license to sacrifice a protected species.
It is part of their culture, let it continue. Apparently it was also part of the white man's culture to run the indians off from the land they lived on. Apparently land was very scarce years ago and Donald Trump needed land to build a casino on.
Time to join the year 2012.....
I don't think it's right to permit our national bird to be killed. And eagles were endangered not too long ago. And I honestly don't think "the Creator" would encourage this killing unless they were going to use every part of the animal to eat, etc.
Really commenters? How many PEOPLE have been killed in the name of religion? How many people are still being killing in the name of God every day? This is their religious practice, and they followed the law as it has been set up. They are asking for 2 birds. I think the eagles will survive.
Yes really! So does that make it right that people are killed everyday due to someone else's religious purposes?
These birds are endangered or close to it. Yes two is not going to kill them all off, but where does it stop? Let's say there are 30 of these tribes... Now what 60 Birds???? How do you feel about it now?
Think before you post.
"follow the law" There has been a number of instances where Native Americans have taken Bald Eagles. Usually they end up in the possession other tribes or other collectors (white folks).
Funny how the U.S. has the Bald Eagle as it's representative bird when in fact this particular species in CANADIAN to begin with !
They talk of taking or killing not just killing, they might capture, collect a few feathers and relese the Eagle. Native's do not kill if the balance of nature not right....
Get educated before you all comment!!!
How is it a Canadian species when we have them all over the United States nesting and living? They decide to just leave Canada one day?
You mean read some dogshlt article on Wikipedia like you do for your "education"?
Fairly certain Bald Eagles came before Canada. And it is indigenous to the US and Mexico.
If the Eagles are here illegally....deport them.
I worship the dark god Cthulu. My religion requires that I take three virgin females from the wild for ritual sacrifice. Guess this case sets a precedent.
Good luck in finding a virgin
Good Lucking finding virgins.
Just outside of Vancouver BC about 7 years ago, they found piles of mutilated Bald Eagle bodies on a native reserve. The talons and beaks and feathers had been removed. The parts had been sold to US native groups for their "ceremonies". The eagle flies "close to the creator" lets kill it.....
the Eagle is also on the moon.... it died and they left it there.... NASA ki11ed...
I think you can get away with just about anything if religion is involved.
i would like to be able to consume psilocybin mushrooms for relgious purposes. i don't think the law would allow that
Yes. Next up, christians having book burnings.
the religion defense will be the new insanity defense; oh wait, they're already the same thing.
WINNER: Most Inane Comment in an Article award with "We're more concerned about the eagle population than any culture in this Western Hemisphere (so let us kill two). "
Look at how many things OUR western culture has killed. They want to take just a few, it's not a problem. I am happy the govt has listened to them and allowed this!
I hate to see creatures killed, but I know enough about my Native American friends and their religious practices, to know that this is really important to them, and that they treat animals with a lot more reverence than we do!
If you get all uptight about this, go visit a slaughterhouse some time, and tell me that their way is wrong and ours is right.
Killing an animal for so called religious ceremonies is no excuse to kill these birds. A slaughter house is for animals that are bred for consumption, not wild animals. There are bird sanctuaries that have lots of feathers to offer. It doesn't scream out irony to you that they would kill these so called sacred birds to perform a ceremony to celebrate them? Like the native tribe in Washington that got a permit to kill a Grey Whale so they could take a couple of tiny bites from it, when all they are used to eating is KFC.
We killed all their Buffalo, they only want to kill a couple of Bald Eagles. I generally am only for hunting if you are going to eat what you hunt, trophy hunters are pigs. In this case though I have to believe and defer to the tribe that their intentions are honorable in the context of their religious and ceremonial wants and needs.
"Their Buffalo"? The Buffalo didn't think so.
Killing in the name of religion. That makes no sense....thats like f'n for virginity.
The fact is they depended on the buffalo for their living. When the US Gov't realized this they systematically massacred the buffalo herds just to destroy the Indians. I think it's fine for them to kill 2 eagles as long as the process is kept under careful control.
You honestly believe they killed off the buffalo to kill the Indians? You do realize that there are a lot of tribes that never came in contact with any buffalo in their life time?
Read about George Catlin's traveling in the 1830's. He tells how an Indian tribe would kill a whole herd of Bison (approx. 100) just for the tongues.
Next thing you know rush limbaugh will claim that he needs to kiil nancy pelosi for religious reasons.
It's more likely that he will simply have a book burning. I can't see him gettin goff his a$$ long enough to hunt a human.
I'd buy that, even from limbaugh.
So a living, breathing, endangered animal is comparable to a bible or religious artifact? Hardly! Murdering an animal should be against the law for whatever purpose – religious or otherwise.
Um, not endangered or threatened. And, I think you'd have a better argument with CAFOs, rather than 2 eagles.
but I'm hungry
they are not endangered... not advocating either way, just saying...
SWW, I can think of two bald eagles who are definitely endangered.
Oh, I just thought of this.. The Native Americans could have probably killed 2 bald eagles without anyone knowing,, But they chose to file for a permit.. I think that counts for something, P.s for all you appalled, the Federal Government approved this,, Again it's not like they just killed two Bald Eagles and tried to get away with it.. They followed protocol..
Very good point.
They do it all the time, and sell the parts for "ceremonies".
I don't want to be insensitive – but birds lose feathers all the time. And there are plenty of eagles at zoos. Can't a zookeeper just send them some feathers so they don't have to kill the bird? Or, is the slaughter part of the necessity of the ritual?
No, the necessary part of the ritual is pushing the federal government.
I guess they have to do a ritual k1!!ing... like the guy on the cross.. it has to be done in a gory way to meet the ritual requirements. Sacrifices can't use natural died victims. The death has to be caused by the hand of a human for it to "TAKE" as a deliberate gift.. An eagle who falls out of a tree due to old age is not good enough.. it HAS to die by the hand of a human, like the guy on the cross.... natural death is not accepted by gods.... mother nature supplies natural death to her creatures all the time... but because it is NATURAL it is not accepted by human created gods...The death must be ritually executed. or it is not god approved and therefore rejected... pure barbarism... at its worst. Read Caesar's Messiah on the ritual execution of the christian god..