For hundreds of years, Native American tribes have been using both bald and golden eagle feathers for cultural and religious purposes. In the 1970’s, the US Fish and Wildlife established the National Eagle Repository to ensure Native Americans would continue to have access to eagle feathers while protecting eagles from unlawful killing and financial gain from trade of their feathers. Native Americans enrolled in a federally recognized tribe may apply for a permit to receive a feather from the National Eagle Repository.
Here at the National Eagle Center, we maintain permits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to house the resident eagles. We also collect all the feathers that the eagles molt naturally and send them to the National Eagle Repository.
At times, the NEC gets called about a dead eagle in the area. Under our salvage permits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we can collect the carcass. We then ship the entire carcass to the National Eagle Repository where they can distribute parts or the whole eagle depending on the condition. An eagle is usually kept for no longer than 3-5 days. Only one whole eagle may be requested at a time, and currently there are 5,000 people on a waiting list where averages of only 1,000 eagles come in each year.