National Eagle Repository - Fact Sheets

Conserving America's Future

Possession and Transport of Eagle Parts/Feathers Fact Sheets

The section below contains links to fact sheets related to the procurement and transportation of eagle parts and feathers. We will update this area with additional resources as they become available.

Jump to a section: Instructions for Shipping Eagles/Parts | Non-eagle Repository information | Ordering Eagle Parts and Feathers | Ordering Eagle Parts and Feathers While Incarcerated | Possession of Eagle Feathers/parts fact sheet | Transport of Eagle items to Canada or Mexico | Transport of Eagle Items within the United States | Transport of Eagle Items overseas or out of the country


Instructions for Shipping Eagles/Parts »

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Eagle Shipping Guidelines

A plastic bag of eagle feathers in a box.The NER serves as the national collection and distribution point for deceased bald and golden eagles each year from local, state, and federal wildlife officials salvaged off of tribal lands, as well as permitted rehabilitation and zoological facilities. If you are not a wildlife official or permitted by USFWS to salvage eagles, please report a deceased eagle or eagle parts/feathers to the nearest wildlife official. Do not attempt to salvage an eagle carcass or any parts/feathers.

Following are guidelines to help you with proper documentation, safe handling, packaging and shipping procedures so that eagles arrive without damage and in the best possible condition.

What should be sent to the Repository?
We accept all bald and golden eagles and their parts, despite condition, with the exception of:

  • Nestlings
  • Fledglings (10+ flight feathers are still blood quills)
  • West Nile Virus or Triple E positive birds
  • Eagles known  to have died from anticoagulant rodenticides or aspergillosis

Any eagles that have been euthanized or have tested high for lead must be clearly marked as such. Conducting toxicology reports are not required, however, if you have completed one it must also be included with the eagle. Please include any other information you may have on the eagle (i.e. suspected cause of death, location/date of salvage). We do not accept any other species of birds. Any eagles that we do not accept can be disposed of through cremation or however your local health department deems safe. Please contact your issuing USFWS Migratory Bird Permit Office for any other disposition of unacceptable eagles.   

Tips for Collection/Storage of Dead Eagles:
Collect eagles under the assumption that an infectious disease or toxin is involved. Remember to protect yourself as some of these diseases and toxins are hazardous to humans.

  • Use rubber gloves when picking up dead eagles. If you do not have gloves, insert your hand into a plastic bag.
  • Place each bird in a sturdy plastic bag and tape or tie closure to prevent leakage. Please use care when bagging not to tie the bag too close to the tail feathers.
  • Place in a freezer as soon as possible.

Packaging and Shipping:
When needing to ship eagles and/or their parts to the NER, please email repository@fws.gov with your organization/agency’s name, full physical shipping address, phone number, the number of eagles you have, the number of labels needed, and the number of shipping boxes* if needed. We will then provide you with pre-paid FedEx Express (or FedEx Ground for just feathers) labels and answer any further questions you may have. The labels will be emailed to you via FedEx email and must be printed within a week to remain valid. Once printed, they will not expire for approximately a year. To ship:

  1. Select a sturdy cardboard box to accommodate the number of eagles being shipped and to allow adequate room for the length of the feathers. Please do not bend wing or tail feathers. Plastic coolers may be used and will be returned to sender. It is best if the eagle(s) are tightly packed and do not have room to roll around during shipment.
  2. Ship eagles in a frozen state. Do not include gel or ice packs as these damage the eagles. Even dried parts such as bones and feathers must be frozen before shipping to prevent pests from entering our facility.
  3. Please remove any medical devices (i.e. needles, catheters, bandages) before sending.
  4. Each eagle must be double bagged with absorbent material between the bag layers (newspaper works great – please do not use shredded paper).
  5. Ship via FedEx Express on any non-holiday Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
  6. If including paperwork needing to be returned or any other special requests, please email us the day you ship so that we can accommodate your requests. We receive 3000+ eagles each year and some may not be evaluated for several months after receipt.

*The Repository does maintain a limited supply of shipping boxes for those in need of shipping containers. These boxes are designed to hold 3-5 eagles so you must have a minimum of three eagles to request these containers. The boxes are in high demand it may take over a month to receive them. Due to demand, we are not able to provide them in advanced.

Dropping off Eagles:
If in the local area and wanting to drop off eagles, please contact us at repository@fws.gov to arrange and date and time. For less than 20 eagles, please contact us at least 72 hours before desired drop off time. If needing to drop off more than 20 eagles, please contact us at least a week in advanced. 

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Non-eagle Repository Information »


Ordering Eagle Parts and Feathers from the National Eagle Repository »


Ordering Eagle Parts and Feathers from the National Eagle Repository While Incarcerated »


Possession of Eagle Feathers/parts fact sheet »


Transport of Eagle Items to Canada or Mexico »

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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.

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Transport of Eagle Items within the United States »

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February 1, 2003
Subject: Native Transport of Eagle Items Within North America

BackgroundThe U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act has long prohibited anyone from entering or leaving the United States with eagles, eagle parts, or eagle feathers. In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) introduced eagle transport permits to accommodate enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes who travel internationally with eagle items for religious use. Special procedures allowing U.S. tribal members to take such items into Canada and Mexico without transport permits were introduced in 2000.

Existing FWS regulations and enforcement policies did not allow Indian people from Canada and Mexico to bring eagle items into or out of the United States. Many of these individuals, however, routinely travel to the United States to participate in religious and cultural ceremonies involving the use of eagle items.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has worked successfully with the Canadian Wildlife Service and other authorities from Canada to resolve this problem. The FWS continues to work with the government of Mexico to find a way to accommodate Indian people who visit the United States from that country.

Action: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is implementing a new policy that will allow Indian people from Canada to bring personally owned, legally possessed eagle items into the United States for religious and cultural use. Existing FWS policies that allow U.S. tribal members to take lawfully acquired eagle items to Canada or Mexico without permits remain in effect.

Transport of Eagle Items by Indian People From Canada: As of February 1, 2003, Indian people from Canada who are recognized by the Canadian Government under that country’s Indian Act may legally travel to and from the United States with their personally owned eagle parts and eagle feathers for religious and cultural use.

When visiting the United States with eagle items, these individuals must:

  • Carry and present a “Certificate of Indian Status” card issued by the Federal Government of Canada.
  • Declare all eagle items to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or U.S. Customs Service by filing an FWS Form 3-177 (Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife). A declaration must be filed when entering or leaving the United States at border crossings and airports.
  • Transport only personally owned and lawfully possessed eagle items that will be used for religious and cultural practices.
  • Enter and leave the United States with the same eagle items.

Transport of Eagle Items by U.S. Native Americans Traveling to Canada and Mexico: Under a U.S. policy implemented in 2000, Indian people living in the United States may travel to Canada and Mexico with personally owned, legally possessed eagle items. While these individuals do not need to obtain an eagle transport permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an enrolled member of an Indian tribe recognized by the U.S. government under 25 U.S.C. 479a
  • Declare all eagle items to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or U.S. Customs Service by filing an FWS Form 3-177 (Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife). A declaration must be filed when entering or leaving the United States at border crossings and U.S. airports.
  • Transport only 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.

U.S. tribal members who travel to Mexico with eagle items should be aware that Mexican law officially requires permits for all wildlife items entering or leaving that country.

U.S. tribal members who want to travel to countries other than Canada and Mexico with eagle items for religious use must obtain an eagle transport permit from the FWS. See our public bulletin on Native American Travel Overseas with Eagle Items.

Contact:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
703-358-1949 703-358-2271 (fax)
https://www.fws.gov/le

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Transport of Eagle Items overseas or out of the country »

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Subject: Native American Travel Overseas with Eagle Items

BackgroundFor decades, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibited anyone from bringing eagles, eagle feathers, or eagle parts into or out of the United States. The Act’s prohibitions applied not only to commercial trade, but to any international movement of eagles, including travel outside of the United States by Native Americans with eagle items used in the practice of their religion. No legal mechanism existed to facilitate the international transport of these eagle articles.

Action: Effective September 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced eagle transport permits to accommodate the religious and ceremonial needs of enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes who want to travel overseas with their eagle parts and feathers.

Eagle transport permits make it legal under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act for enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel overseas with their eagle items. With this authorization, enrolled tribal members can now obtain the permits required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to lawfully enter foreign countries with eagle items and avoid having those items seized overseas.

Enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes who want to travel overseas with eagle items should apply for an eagle transport permit before any travel by contacting either the Service migratory bird office that serves their home State or the Service’s Division of Management Authority, which issues CITES permits.

Under Service policy, enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes who want to travel to Canada or Mexico with their eagle items do not require an eagle transport permit. See our public bulletin on Transport of Eagle Items within North America.

Contact:

Office of Law Enforcement
703-358-1949 703-358-2271 (fax) 
https://www.fws.gov/le

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Management Authority
703-358-2095 703-358-2281 (fax)
703-358-2348 fax retrieval system
https://www.fws.gov/international

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Eagle feathers. Credit: USFWS.

Fact Sheets


Learn everything you need to know about the transportation of eagle parts and feathers.

Bald eagle in flight. Credit: George Gentry, USFWS.

Laws & Regulations


Here you will learn all you need to know about the laws and regulations concerning the protection of Bald and Golden Eagles.

Greater Sage-Grouse distribution map. Credit: USFWS.

Resources


Frequently asked questions, procedures for obtaining eagle parts and feathers, photos, statistics, and more.