on eagle feather laws‡
10/12/12 Update in progress: The U.S. Department of Justice has just issued a policy statement which has clarified many gray areas of interpretation of eagle feather law‡. In response to the release of the clarified policy, I will be re-writing my popular "Eagle Feather Law" webpage. Please check back later for updates.
Due to recent and continuing reports of "eagle
note to self: REWRITE NEEDED HERE
and arrests by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, several
individuals have contacted me with questions about eagle feather laws‡,
how they affect my business, and how they affect my customers.
Now, I'm finally publishing my thoughts and opinions on the matter.
My business policy on has always been published on my website but will be
explained in greater detail here. Though I do have more knowledge about wildlife
law than an average native* or non-native†
citizen, I am not a legal expert in these matters, and my words should not be
used as a substitute for legal advice.
Primarily, my knowledge and understanding of laws
pertaining to eagle feathers comes from my education. I hold a bachelors
degree in biology from Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX. My
emphasis was zoology and natural history, specifically mammals, and I worked in
the Angelo State Natural History Collection as a curatorial assistant in the
mammal and bird collection. I can identify most North American birds by sight,
and I also have extensive knowledge of wild and domestic bird plumage. Additionally,
I have field experience in the collection of mammal specimens and am quite
familiar with permit laws.
I also hold a Masters degree in Museum Science from
Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. My emphasis was natural science
collection curation. I proudly maintained a 4.0 in
my graduate studies, including the course titled "Museum Law" then
taught by Dr. Marilyn Phelan. I've studied artists' rights and wildlife law in
great detail and have a thorough understanding of how such laws pertain to works
of art, museum specimens, and other collection objects containing parts from
endangered or otherwise protected species of animals. While at Texas Tech,
I worked in the Natural Science Research Laboratory as a curatorial assistant in
the vertebrate collections, and I also conducted my Master's thesis research
during one summer field session of the Biological Survey of Texas.
My Business Practices and Policies:
For the past few years, in order to stay home to raise my two
children, I have chosen to work as a home-based, free-lance artist. My medium
of choice is feathers. Though I do not currently work in my field of biological
study, I am thankful that I can call upon my background in wildlife law to aid
me in managing my business, as it is wholly sales-based. Simply put, I
sell feathers. Allow me to emphasize: I only sell LEGAL feathers.
All of the feathers I use in my work are from domestic commercially
raised birds such as turkeys, peacocks, pheasant, and pet macaws. I
maintain extensive business records and receipts for all of my supplies
purchases from both commercial and private vendors.
I do not and never have sold or traded eagle
feathers, hawk feathers, or feathers from any other wild bird protected by the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and Bald Eagle Protection Act. As a
professional featherworker, I am often asked, "Will you work on my real
feathers?" My standard business policy and normal response is as follows:
If you have an NER permit, yes, I will rework your real eagle plumes.
note to self: REWRITE NEEDED HERE
Prices are the same as listed
on my “Legal Plumes Prices”
Because I do not typically accept custom orders, preference will be given to
customers with whom I have worked previously; and waiting times can extend up to
Because I do not typically accept custom orders, preference will be given to customers with whom I have worked previously; and waiting times can extend up to 6 weeks..
If you have an NER permit, yes, you can provide your own eagle feathers for me to use in making a fan.
note to self: REWRITE NEEDED HERE Prices are listed on my “Peyote
Fan Prices” page.
Because I do not typically accept custom orders, preference will be given to
customers with whom I have worked previously; and wait times can extend up to 6
Because I do not typically accept custom orders, preference will be given to customers with whom I have worked previously; and wait times can extend up to 6 months.
A copy of your
permit is required when mailing real eagle feathers.
The permit and any unused feathers will be returned. I do not sell real
eagle feathers. Charges for reworking existing eagle plumes and feathers
are for labor and supplies only.
Why do I require a
copy of your repository permit? Mailing your permit with your genuine
feathers is for your protection and mine. Your permit was mailed to you when you received
your eagle from the National Eagle Repository (NER) in Denver, CO. and is the only
document that will prove that you obtained eagle parts legally note
to self: REWRITE NEEDED HERE. Should the
package be opened enroute, the feathers should not be confiscated when
accompanied by your permit.
feathers loaned to me) is the responsibility of the customer. Delivery
confirmation and insurance on your feathers is strongly recommended, because I
am not responsible for your property until the feathers reach my place of
I cannot emphasize enough that I do not sell feathers
from eagles or any other protected bird. All of my products are 100% legal to buy, sell, mail, trade,
import, and export by domestic and foreign customers. In the occasional instance
that a customer provides his or her own eagle feathers (accompanied by NER
permit) for an order, I am allowed to charge for my skill in adding
structure, threadwork, beadwork, etc. to such feathers.
The feathers themselves are not part of the sale as they are on temporary
loan to me for use in completing the order.
Additionally, if a customer proposes a trade of goods in lieu of monetary
compensation for my work, the only items I will consider accepting are legal
feathers and supplies I would normally purchase elsewhere for use in my work.
I have never and will never accept feathers from protected species as
payment for my work. I am a professional featherworker who operates completely
within the law, and I require the same from my customers because I desire to
protect my business and any profit from my business that helps provide for my
NOTE: Because I no longer pre-book custom orders and only sell my work on my Regalia For Sale pages, I no longer complete items using genuine eagle feathers provided by the customer; however, I am choosing to leave the information on this page for reference only.
Eagle Protection Act, 1940 (amended in 1962 to include golden eagles)
National Eagle Repository (NER):
In my online career as a featherworker, I often
correspond with natives* who do not know that the National
Eagle Repository exists.
Established by the US Fish and Wildlife service in
the early 1970’s and located near Denver Colorado, this is the ONLY place
where natives* can acquire eagles or their parts legally.
Additionally, all local, state, or federal aviaries,
zoos, museums, falconers, rehabilitators, and other agencies who may legally
possess eagles are encouraged to send dropped feathers, other parts, and any
dead birds to the repository for storage and redistribution to approved native*
The Repository has a lengthy waiting list, so
please keep your contact information on file at the NER updated if you move or
change phone numbers.
Always keep your permit in a safe location and make
several copies for yourself and family members to carry with your regalia.
Please note that this permit does not allow you to sell, barter,
trade, import, or export your eagle, parts from your eagle, or any other eagle
or parts. This permit does not allow you to gift feathers to
persons. This permit does allow you to hand down these feathers to family
members who maintain a copy of the permit.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS):
is a large governmental agency that works to conserve and protect our nation’s
wildlife and habitats for the benefit of the American public.
The USFWS has a law enforcement division with fewer
than 400 agents charged with a long list of duties related to wildlife
management for the entire United States. Only a tiny portion of the work of these few agents concerns
native* use of eagle feathers. It is my professional
opinion and conclusion that grapevine reports of “eagle feather raids and
busts” are usually blown wildly out of proportion, oftentimes morphing into
semi-factual or non-factual urban legends.
Media reports about arrests of persons (native* or
shooting and selling eagles do tend to spark the “rumor-mill”, but such
reports should be viewed as reminders of laws with which we should all
familiarize ourselves. Primarily, eagle feather laws‡
exist for the benefit and preservation of these birds and their environment.
Additionally, eagle feather laws‡ exist to
facilitate the legally protected continuation of Native American religious and
cultural practices that require the use of eagles or their feathers and parts
during a modern era of species loss and habitat destruction.
Finally, eagle feather laws‡ exist to
give law enforcement agents the power to pursue and prosecute offenders.
So, I will get right to the matters that worry most
“How does this affect me?”
“Who is an offender?”
Here’s my top list of actions that show blatant disregard for the law and, when reported or otherwise discovered, will result in USFWS investigation and probable prosecution:
"What about my old
"What about my hawk
> 5/1/11 UPDATE: As of the summer of 2010, the Comanche Nation has created the first Native American feather repository for culturally significant feathers other than eagle. See this. Members of ANY federally recognized tribe can now submit permit applications for protected migratory birds like the above mentioned hawks, flickers, anhingas, etc. Special thanks to Nick Tahchawwickah for bringing this ground-breaking facility to my attention. I am truly excited to share the word that these permits now exist!
progress; please check back later
This policy clarifies many natives'* concerns about the possibility of prosecution from:
not having a permit
gifting of feathers
picking up fallen feathers
loaning feathers to a craftspersons
In my career as a featherworker, I have been
surprised by the number of natives* who do not fully
understand eagle feather laws‡.
Unfortunately, ignorance of these laws is no excuse for violating them.
Educate yourself about eagle feather laws‡,
and do not hesitate to ask questions of tribal leaders and agents at the NER or
USFWS. They are here to help you and look forward to sharing their knowledge.
Secondly, educate others. Share
what you learn because we will all benefit from increased awareness of the
preservation of our natural surroundings. Additionally,
please take advantage of the repository to obtain your eagle legally.
Doing so will help preserve and protect free ranging eagle populations in
North America as they struggle to survive our rapid urbanization and destruction
of habitats. Finally, know your tribal, religious, cultural, and legal
rights and enjoy celebrating your native culture.
Thanks for reading and see you on the powwow trail!
“native” refers to US citizens who are enrolled in a
federally recognized Native American tribe.
Written, designed, and
maintained by Raegan King.
All content of
walela49.com and legalplumes.com is copyright protected. Commercial use of any text or photos
from this website is prohibited. Please ask permission for personal use of
my content and photos. Use of this text will be required ©
walela49.com and a hyperlink to my website http://www.walela49.com
will be required.