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Agency believes headless eagle lawfully acquired

Boulder, Colorado (AP) 7-09

State wildlife officials say a headless bald eagle found in a Boulder County park likely came from a federal repository used by Native Americans, and was part of a legal religious ceremony.

A hiker found the eagle wrapped in a red cloth over the Memorial Day weekend. Its talons and feathers were missing.

Wildlife officers were concerned the eagle might have been poached and its parts sold on the black market. But Colorado Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the agency got an anonymous tip that an Indian man who had a federal permit to use parts from dead eagles in a religious ceremony was performing a ritual in the park.

Federal officials met with the man and a lawyer for the Native American Rights Fund.

“Our belief is that the eagle was obtained legally through a federal repository,” Churchill said.

 

The National Eagle Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, just north of Denver, was established to provide eagle feathers to Native Americans for religious purposes. It’s a collection point for dead eagles, many of which were killed by vehicle accidents, unlawful hunting or natural causes.

“Even a dead eagle is held with highest respect,” said Steven Moore, senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder.

Moore said the man who conducted the ceremony was out of state when the eagle was discovered and was unaware of the media coverage.

“That’s why there was a time lapse between when the eagle was found on the ground, and when he came forward,” Moore said.

Bald eagles were taken off the federal endangered species list two years ago.

Anyone convicted of poaching bald eagles in Colorado can face up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

 

 

 

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