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Handling eagle remains

If you find the body of an eagle, you have to contact law enforcement

I know there are bald eagles living in our area. I’ve seen them from a distance around a lake near my house. My friend Bob, a veterinarian, has had clients bring injured bald eagles to his clinic, and he always contacts the Department of Natural Resources.

Jody Millar is the Bald Eagle Recovery Coordinator for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service. She says the majestic birds were removed from the endangered species list, but are still protected. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, you can't keep a single feather without a permit.  

"Because of those protections, it's not lawful for an ordinary citizen to possess a bald eagle, either dead or alive, parts, nest, anything. So if you see a bald eagle dead somewhere, you should contact law enforcement," says Millar. "Basically, it's the Department of Conservation, your Department of Natural Resource folks, or the federal fish and wildlife people who will be dealing with it."

It's important not to disturb or move the eagle's body. Millar says if it was shot or there is evidence of criminal activity, law enforcement will need to investigate. If you're caught keeping eagle parts without a permit, you may face fines and even prison time.

All eagle bodies are sent to the National Eagle Repository in Denver, Colorado.

"When any dead eagles are found by law enforcement personnel, they get filtered to the right avenue and get sent to this repository," says Millar. "And the repository then has a list of federally-recognized Native American tribes that are in line for eagle feathers and parts. And those parts are distributed with a permit."

Learn more about bald eagle regulations

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