CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal permit allowing the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming to kill up to two bald eagles for religious purposes is the first of its kind ever issued to an American Indian tribe, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official said Wednesday.
The federal agency granted a permit last week allowing the Northern Arapaho to kill or capture and then release up to two bald eagles this year. The tribe filed a federal lawsuit in Cheyenne last fall over the agency’s earlier failure to grant a bald eagle permit after the tribe applied for one nearly three years ago.
The permit was granted in response to the tribe’s application, not the lawsuit that is still pending, Matt Hogan, assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, told The Associated Press in a statement Wednesday.
“Issuance of the permit was in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which allows for take of bald or golden eagles for the ‘religious purposes of Indian tribes’ if it is compatible with the preservation of eagle populations,” Hogan wrote.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that killing one or two bald eagles would be consistent with the standard of preserving eagle populations, Hogan stated.
The national bird was removed from the federal list of threatened species in 2007, following its reclassification in 1995 from endangered to threatened. The birds remain protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.