“For hundreds of years, Native Americans have used eagle feathers for religious and cultural purposes. But the government closely regulates the ability to obtain such feathers, sometimes leading to black market activity.” M. Fishler-Cronkite News
Excerpt: Navajo zoo to provide protected eagle feathers Meryl Fishler-Cronkite News
“We use a lot of the eagle feathers to help us with our spirituality,” said Anderson Hoskie, a Navajo medicine man. The Native American community can legally obtain eagle feathers through a federal depository, but it’s an arduous process. The Navajo zoo, the only Native American zoo in the U.S., is part of a pilot program to legally release golden eagle feathers molted from its live birds to the Navajo people. The problem: The zoo only has four eagles. That’s not a lot of feathers to be able to supply the whole Navajo Nation with the necessary needs for eagle feathers…It’s also expensive to keep the golden eagles.
Feeding one costs $1,000 a year, said Elden Brown, the legal instruments examiner for the southwest region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Even with multiple outlets, some people turn to illegal measures to obtain feathers. “There is a back market for (eagles). They are highly sought after,” said Phillip Land, a special agent in charge for the southwest region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “A full tail fan could go anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500,” Makisic said. The illegal activity affects the long term viability and sustainability of the golden eagle and other migratory bird populations on the reservation.”
“The most amazing lesson in aerodynamics I ever had was the day I climbed a thermal in a glider at the same time as an eagle. I witnessed, close up, effortlessness and lightness combined with strength, precision and determination.”