Office of Law Enforcement
Mountain-Prairie Region

National Eagle Repository

Denver Colorado

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Questions and Answers About the National Eagle Repository

For hundreds of years, Native Americans have used eagle feathers for religious and cultural purposes, including healing, marriage, and naming ceremonies.  In recognition of the significance of these feathers to Native Americans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the National Eagle Repository in the early 1970's to provide Native Americans with the feathers of golden and bald eagles needed for religious purposes.

Denver Museum of Natural History Photo Archives: Shannon Garcia

 

 


Can Native Americans collect their own eagle feathers?

No. As a result of years of habitat loss from urbanization, exposure to chemicals used in agriculture and animal husbandry, and poaching, populations of bald eagles, the national symbol, and golden eagles have been reduced in numbers.  In an effort to protect these birds, the United States Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940, and later amended the Act in 1962 to include protection for golden eagles.   This Act prohibits take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts without a permit.

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When eagles are received at the National Eagle Repository, condition of each eagle and their feathers is noted, and the species and age is recorded.

 

 

 

How does the National Eagle Repository get the eagles?

The National Eagle Repository serves as a collection point for dead eagles.  Most of the dead golden and bald eagles received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have been salvaged by State and Federal wildlife personnel.  Many of these birds have died as a result of electrocution, vehicle collisions, unlawful shooting and trapping, or from natural causes.

The eagles are shipped to the National Eagle Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Denver, Colorado.  Each bird is assigned a number for tracking and accountability purposes, and information about each bird is entered into a database.  The condition of each eagle and their feathers is noted, and the species and age is recorded.  If part of the bird  or its feathers are missing, damaged, or broken, FWS staff may add replacement parts from another bird to make it complete.   (The recipient is notified when this is the case prior to shipping).  The bird is then stored in a freezer until it is ready to ship, usually within 3-5 days.

Who can obtain an eagle from the Repository?

Only enrolled members of a Federally recognized tribe can obtain a permit from the FWS, authorizing them to receive and possess eagle feathers from the Repository for religious purposes.

How can I obtain an eagle?

The following must be presented when applying for an eagle possession permit:

  • A completed application obtained from your nearest FWS Regional Migratory Bird Permit Office.
  • Certification of tribal enrollment from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or Tribal Enrollment Office.

On the application, you must specify whether you want a golden or bald eagle, a mature or immature bird, a whole bird or specific parts, or have no preference.

You must provide a current telephone number so the Repository staff can contact you by telephone when your order is ready to ship.  Any changes in your address and/or telephone number must be submitted by you to your local FWS Regional Migratory Bird Permit Office to keep your file updated.

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Eagles are shipped to applicants within 3-5 days after the eagles are received at the National Eagle Repository.

 

 

 

 

 

How long is the wait to obtain an eagle?

Requests for eagles are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Eagles are typically kept at the Repository just long enough to allow FWS personnel to contact the next applicant on the waiting list, usually 3-5 days.  Because of the large demand and the limited supply, applicants can expect to wait about 3 and one half years for a whole Bird order to be filled.  Approximately 95% of the orders are for whole eagles.   Currently, there are over 5000 people on the waiting list for approximately 1000 eagles the Repository receives each year.

May I apply for more than one eagle?

Again, due to the large demand and the limited supply, each applicant can apply for only one whole eagle or specific parts equivalent to one bird (i.e. two wings, one tail, two talons) at a time.  Once your request has been filled, you may reapply to receive another eagle.

May I sell objects made from the eagles feathers?

No.  Feathers or parts of bald or golden eagles and other migratory birds may NOT be sold, purchased, bartered, or traded.  They may, however, be handed down to family members, from generation to generation, or from one Native American to another for religious purposes.  Native Americans CAN NOT give eagle feathers or parts to non-Native Americans as a gift.

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Immature golden eagle tail feathers

 

 

 

 

Can eagle feathers and parts be imported or exported?

Yes.  The 50 Code of Federal Regulations, part 22, has been amended to provide for the issuance of a permit to import/export eagle feathers for religious and cultural purposes.  Contact your FWS Regional Migratory Bird Permit Office for application procedures.

How does the National Eagle Repository benefit wildlife?

The salvage efforts of the FWS provides a legal means for Native Americans to acquire eagle feathers for religious purposes.  By providing feathers to Native Americans, the pressure to take birds from the wild is reduced, thereby protecting eagle populations.

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               US Fish and Wildlife Service
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For more information or to obtain an application, contact the nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Permit Office listed below:

Region 1
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office/ARW
Eastside Federal Complex
911 N.E. 11th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97232
(503) 872-2715

Region 2
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
Room 5504
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103
(505) 248-7882

Region 3
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
1 Federal Drive, Box 45
Ft. Snelling, Minnesota 55111
(612) 713-5436

Region 4
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Permit Section
1875 Century Boulevard
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
(404) 679-7051

Region 5
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, Massachusetts 01035
(413) 253-8643

Region 6
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
P.O. Box 25486, DFC (60130)
Denver, Colorado 80225
(303) 236-8145

Region 7
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
1011 E. Tutor Road, Room 155
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 786-3693

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Contact us: MountainPrairie@fws.gov
FWS Mountain-Prairie Region Law Enforcement Website
FWS Division of Law Enforcement's National Headquarters
 

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Last updated: January 21, 2010