Office of Law Enforcement
Protecting Wildlife and Plant Resources
Traveling to the United States with Eagle Items: Guidelines for Indian People of Canada

May Indian people of Canada travel to and from the Unites States with eagle parts and eagle feathers?

As of February 1, 2003, Indian people of Canada who meet certain requirements may legally travel to and from the United States with lawfully possessed, personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use.

What requirements must I meet?

You must:

  • Possess and carry with you a "Certificate of Indian Status" card issued by the Federal Government of Canada. You will be asked to show this card when you enter the United States.
  • 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).
  • Limit your eagle items to those that will be used for religious and cultural practices.

Will U.S. officers 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?

An FWS 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 U.S. port of entry where you are declaring your eagle 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 bringing in three golden eagle feathers from Canada, you would write “golden eagle” in block 16a, “feathers” in block 18a, “3” in block 19a, and “CA” in block 20.

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

Must I take all of my eagle items back to Canada with me?

Yes. The items listed on the declaration you file when you enter the United States should match the items you declare when you return to Canada.

May I transport eagle items that belong to another person?

No. You must own the eagle items that you bring into the United States.

May I bring live eagles into the United States?

No. You may not bring live bald or golden eagles or live eagle eggs into or 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.

May I sell or buy eagle items in the United States?

No. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or purchase of bald and golden eagles, their parts and feathers, nests, eggs, and products made from them.

Why is the United States introducing requirements for Indian people of Canada who visit with eagle items?

Under the U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, no one may legally enter or leave the United States with items made from bald or golden eagles. For years, this prohibition applied even to U.S. Native Americans who wanted to travel outside of the United States with personally owned eagle items for religious or cultural use.

FWS regulations and enforcement policies, which were implemented a few years ago, provide a legal mechanism authorizing enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel internationally with eagle items. Those rules, however, did not apply to Indian people from Canada. Many of these individuals routinely travel to the United States to participate in religious and cultural ceremonies involving the use of eagle items. The new policy that went into effect on February 1, 2003, makes it possible for Indian people of Canada to legally visit the United States with personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use.

How did the Fish and Wildlife Service develop this new policy?

We worked with officials from the Canadian Wildlife Service and other authorities from Canada to find a way to accommodate Indian people in Canada who want to travel to the United States with eagle items.

How does this new policy affect U.S. Native Americans?

It does not apply to U.S. tribal members. FWS policies that already allow members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel in North America with eagle items remain in effect. U.S. tribal members should contact the FWS or check the guidelines on our web site to obtain detailed information about traveling overseas or to Canada and Mexico with eagle items.

How are eagles protected in the United States?

The United States generally prohibits the take, sale, purchase, 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 that require the possession and transport of eagles or eagle parts and feathers.

Who may I contact if I have additional questions about bringing eagle items into the United States from Canada?

You may call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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. Questions may also be addressed to Patricia M. Dwyer, Chief, Aboriginal Affairs and Transboundary Wildlife, Canadian Wildlife Service, at (819) 953-0289, e-mail patricia.dwyer@ec.gc.ca.

Last updated: February 14, 2013