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Non-Indian eagle feather case returns to federal court

Four non-Indians who say they should be allowed to possess eagle feathers are going to federal court to make their case.

Samuel R. Wilgus Jr., Raymond Hardman, and Christopher and Faye Beath were charged for violating federal eagle protection laws. As non-Indians, they can't possess eagle feathers or eagle parts.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, after hearing the case twice, failed to come to a resolution. An en banc panel ordered the lower court to consider whether the non-Indians' religious rights were violated by the federal government's refusal to issue permits to them.

The court, however, said non-federally recognized Indians are entitled to possess eagle feathers and parts. The Interior Department was ordered to pay Joselius Saenz, a member of the terminated Chiricahua Apache Tribe of New Mexico, $40,000 and return his eagle items.

Even federally recognized Indians have trouble obtaining eagle feathers. The National Eagle Repository's waiting list is five years long.

Get the Story:
A Troubling Chapter in the Bald Eagle's Success Story (The Los Angeles 7/18)

Relevant Links:
National Eagle Repository -
Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act -

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