January 1, 2000 Issue 29 - Special Edition

Path of the Feathers
( By Ondamitag )

Did you know that a majority of Americans are not allowed to possess eagle feathers or any other part of an eagle (Bald or Golden)? There are laws prohibiting such things. These laws also apply to other endangered/ threatened species and migratory birds.

People have actually gotten in real trouble for violating these laws, especially when they handcraft items using critter parts then try to sell them. Others have simply gotten in trouble for possession of such critter parts. One can agree or disagree with the laws and their intrusiveness into personal rights, but it is important to understand these laws; ignorance is no excuse.

I live in a place where it is not difficult to find bald eagle feathers. Bald eagles are birds of habit. They tend to fish, feed, preen and roost in the same places. It is a matter of thinking like an eagle, a feather and the wind. For me, it is also a matter of integrity to protect such places and to simply leave things alone. Some things do not need to be picked up; at least by me.

I have seen the greed, the need to possess, turn reasonable folks into 'their own worst enemy. Where there is no greed there is no need. Eagle feathers have a very special place in most of the original nations of Turtle Island. They are symbols and much more than symbols. They are things for some to hold and the rest of us to behold. Eagle feathers are to respected.

There is a government agency within the Department of the Interior called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/). They are the ones charge with enforcing these laws and so much more. It is an interesting agency to say the least.

They also have a web page titled 'Facts About Federal Wildlife Laws' (http://www.fws.gov/laws/facts.html). One of the numerous sections is about birds and bird feathers. Here is the part that deals with feathers:

Birds and Bird Feathers

The import of most wild bird feathers, mounted birds, and skins (with or without feathers) is prohibited by U.S. Customs law. Most migratory birds are protected by international treaty as well as by United States law and may not be possessed without permit. However, game birds that are legally killed in and exported from foreign countries by United States hunters may be imported or possessed. Fully manufactured artificial flies for fishing (other than those containing protected bird species) may also be imported and possessed. Prohibited or controlled items commonly sold abroad include:

  • Live and mounted migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles.
  • Feathers in a variety of forms. Including flowers, pictures, wearing apparel, Indian artifacts, necklaces, headbands, and curios decorated with feathers.
  • Most psittacine birds (parrots, macaws, etc.).

I learned that all eagles found dead by the public are supposed to be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I then wondered what they did with the eagles after they were done studying them.

Well, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an eagle repository. The National Eagle Repository (http://www.r6.fws.gov/law/le59.html) is located within the old Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado. The above web-site has links that allows downloadable forms and directions for obtaining eagles and eagle parts. The permitting process is very involved, and requires verification that one has the aboriginal rights to possess them. This verification is more than just tribal membership verification. The individual's tribe government and spiritual leaders also have to verify this person right.

When one looks over the other Wildlife Laws it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot to be aware of when it comes to critter parts. It is well worth perusing the entire web-page on them.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a number of very useful pages like:

Servers Organized by Office: U.S. Fish & WildlifeService
This site has a myriad of programs some I found just totally fascinating - Like the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program. I hope it is as successful as the one that happened in these northern woods.

Laws, Regulations, Policies & Congressional Information: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/laws/)
This site is an excellent link page to finding out tons of information related to Fish and Wildlife service functions and so much more. This is an excellent resource page to hang onto.

Title 50--Wildlife and Fisheries
Chapter 1) (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx/50cfrv1.html)
Chapter 2) (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx/50cfrv2.html#200)
This site is one where can read the regulations that define the scope and purpose of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I was interested in the relationship of this agency and the Endangered Species Act.

Whenever I see a feather on the ground I might want to pick it up and keep it, but when I don't know what type of bird it came off of. It is better to look, enjoy them and then let them be, besides I have watched flying squirrels gather feathers. They eat the quills and save the soft stuff for lining their nests. I have even seen a porcupine eating an eagle feather, must be something in there they like and most likely need. Who am I do deny a porcupine or a flying squirrel a treat?

The world is full of special places that blend with extraordinary times. We are each blessed in our lives to experience a few of them. Honor all aspects of these places by knowing what to touch, what to taste, and what not to. There are many paths in this life. When we expect ours to be respected, we need to remember that we only receive that after we have learned to respect all the other paths. Respect is a mutual admiration society.

Here is hoping that we all learn to respect the Path of the Feathers.

To learn more about this magnificent bird
Golden Eagle

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