Left to Right: Robert Mesta, FWS; Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director, SW Region, FWS;
Megan Mosby, Exec. Dir., Liberty Wildlife; Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; Michele Gallagher, FWS;
Joe Early, FWS; and Rowan Gould, Deputy Director, FWS, Washington, D.C. Photo credit:Tami Heilmann/DOI
Non-Eagle Feather Repository Receives National Award
September 21, 2011 – Washington D.C.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the 2011 Partners in Conservation Awards to 17 organizations who have achieved exemplary conservation results with community engagement and local partnerships. This year’s awards recognize more than 500 individuals from all 50 states and include representatives from Tribes, local communities and states, other Federal agencies, business and industry, nonprofit institutions, and private landowners. The awards also include 150 outstanding Interior employees who are helping to advance important conservation initiatives are also recognized this year.
This year’s award winners include Megan Mosby, Executive Director of the Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation. Liberty Wildlife is one of two repositories the Southwest Region is working with as part of a two-year pilot Non-Eagle Feather Repository, which provides feathers and bird parts to federally recognized tribal members, for cultural and religious purposes. Liberty, founded in 1981, is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, education and conservation organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona. The formation of the pilot program was a joint endeavor between the Regional Director, Migratory Bird Permit Office, Office of Law Enforcement, and Native American Liaison.
The DOI Partners in Conservation Award. Photo credit: Liberty Wildlife
In June of 2010, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed with Liberty and in October feather distribution began. Going on a year anniversary, Liberty has met all the MOA requirements and has successfully distributed hundreds of feathers and birds parts to tribal members across the county. A majority of the feathers collected are naturally molted from various raptors that Liberty cares for at their rehabilitation center. Other feathers, parts, and whole carcasses are also sent to Liberty by various Service permit holders. A majority of requests are for whole tails, and from large raptors like the red-tailed hawk. Most of the time a complete tail is unavailable so staff and volunteers for Liberty painstakingly sort feathers and unless a whole complete tail is available, individual tail feathers are further sorted as to condition, length, color/age pattern and a tail (naturally comprised of 12 feathers) is created for applicants requesting a tail.
Liberty does not receive any funding from the Service. All operating costs, including shipping and handling are the responsibility of Liberty. However, Service staff work closely with both repositories for the acquisition of feathers and birds and feathers, and to ensure permit and compliance issues related to the MOA are met.