Office of Law Enforcement
Protecting Wildlife and Plant Resources
Traveling to Canada or Mexico with Eagle Items: Guidelines for U.S. Native Americans

May Native Americans in the United States travel to Canada and Mexico with eagle parts and eagle feathers?

By policy, Native Americans who are enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes may travel to Canada and Mexico with lawfully possessed, personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use.

Do I need an eagle transport permit for such travel?

Not at this time. You do not need an eagle transport permit to take your eagle items to Canada or Mexico for religious or cultural use. You will, however, need this authorization if you want to travel to any other country with eagle items. See our guidelines for Traveling Overseas with Eagle Items for additional information about eagle transport permits.

What requirements must I meet to travel to Canada or Mexico with eagle items?

You must

  • Be an enrolled member of an Indian tribe recognized by the U.S. Government under 25 U.S.C. 479a
  • Declare your eagle items to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the U.S. Customs Service when you enter or leave the United States at any border crossing or U.S. airport. To do this, you must complete and file an FWS Form 3-177 (Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife).
  • Travel only with personally owned and lawfully possessed eagle items that will be used for religious and cultural practices.
  • Leave and return to the United States with the same eagle items.

Will FWS or U.S. Customs inspectors ask to see my eagle items?

You may be asked to present your items for inspection. If you have concerns about the sacred or ceremonial nature of the items you are transporting, discuss them with the inspecting officer. Although you may still be asked to show the items, inspecting officers will avoid handling the articles and make every effort to show respect for your religious or cultural traditions.

What type of information do I need to complete a Form 3-177 for my eagle items?

A Service or U.S. Customs officer will be available to help you complete your declaration form. To fill out this form, you must provide the following information:

  • Date of “import/export,” i.e., the date you enter or leave the United States (block 1).
  • The name of the port where you are declaring your items (block 4).
  • Your name, address, and phone number (block 13).
  • Species, type, country of origin, and number of eagle items (blocks 16a, 18a, 19a, 20). For example, if you are traveling with three golden eagle feathers from the United States, you would write “golden eagle” in block 16a, “feathers” in block 18a, “3” in block 19a, and “US” in block 20.

You must also sign and date the form in Block 21. FWS officers may ask you for additional information, such as the license plate number of your vehicle or your airline flight number.

Does Canada regulate the transport of eagle items?

You should declare your items at the border.

Does Mexico regulate the transport of eagle items?

The Government of Mexico may require permits for wildlife items that enter or leave Mexico.

Must I bring all of my eagle items back to the United States with me?

Yes. The items listed on the declaration you file when you return to the United States should match the items you declared when you left.

May I transport eagle items that belong to another person?

No. You must own the eagle items that you take with you when you travel to Canada or Mexico.

May I transport live eagles to Canada or Mexico?

No. You may not take live bald or golden eagles or live eagle eggs out of the United States. You may transport lawfully possessed dead bald and golden eagles; eagle mounts, parts, feathers, and nests; dead eagle eggs; and items made from or containing these materials.

Why does the Fish and Wildlife Service regulate the international movement of eagle items that belong to Native Americans?

Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, no one may legally bring items made from bald or golden eagles into or out of the United States. This prohibition was intended to protect eagles from possible commercial exploitation by preventing any international trade in eagles, eagle feathers, and eagle parts. For many years, this prohibition applied even to U.S. Native Americans who wanted to travel outside of the United States with personally owned eagle items.

In 1999, the Service introduced eagle transport permits to provide a legal mechanism under the Eagle Protection Act that would authorize enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel internationally with eagle items for religious use. In 2000, however, the Service waived this permit requirement for U.S. tribal members who visit Canada or Mexico with eagle items until a more streamlined process can be established.

May Indian people from Canada bring eagle items into the United States?

Yes. As of February 1, 2003, individuals in Canada who are recognized by the Canadian Government under that country’s Indian Act may legally travel to and from the United States with personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use. They must possess a “Certificate of Indian Status” card issued by the Canadian Government and must declare their eagle items when they enter and leave the United States. For more information on this subject, see our public bulletin on Transport of Eagle Items Within North America and our guidelines for Indian people of Canada on Traveling to the United States with Eagle Items.

May Indian people from Mexico bring eagle items into the United States?

The Service continues to work with Mexican authorities to address this issue. Our goal is to find a way to accommodate Indian people from that country who want to visit the United States with eagle items for religious or cultural use.

How are eagles protected in the United States?

The United States generally prohibits the take, sale, purchase, barter, possession, import, or export of bald and golden eagles and their parts, feathers, eggs, and nests. Special rules, however, accommodate traditional Native American religious and cultural practices by allowing the possession and transport of lawfully acquired eagles or eagle parts and feathers.

Who may I contact if I have additional questions about traveling to Canada or Mexico with eagle items?

You may call the Office of Law Enforcement at (703) 358-1949 or e-mail us at lawenforcement@fws.gov. You may also check with any of our wildlife inspection offices.

 

Last updated: February 14, 2013