Travelling to the US with eagle items: guidelines for Aboriginal people

Status Indians who transport eagle parts as personal accompanied baggage for religious or ceremonial purposes are exempted from the need to obtain Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits in Canada.

Please refer to the CITES Information Note Personal and Household Effects for further information.

Table of Contents

1 May indian people of Canada travel to and from the United States with eagle parts and eagle feathers?

As of February 1, 2003, Status Indians from Canada who meet certain requirements may legally travel to and from the United States with lawfully possessed, personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use.

2 What about Aboriginal people who are not registered as Status Indians under the indian act but still follow Aboriginal practices where eagle items are used?

The interim solution applies only to Status Indians because their recognition in Canada is consistent with the recognition of Native Americans in the United States. In the search for a long-term solution, consideration will be given to the broader Aboriginal community.

3 What requirements must I meet?

You must

4 I am not a status indian. May I take my eagle feathers and parts into the United States?

No. If you are not a member of a recognized tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs or a Status Indian under Canada's Indian Act you will not be allowed to possess or transport items containing eagle feathers or eagle parts into, within, or out of the United States.

In the United States there are three pieces of legislation covering the protection of eagles. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is a U.S. federal law that helps conserve Bald and Golden eagles. It makes it illegal to take, possess, sell, purchase, transport, export, or import Bald and Golden eagles, their parts, nests, or eggs. It authorizes the USFWS to issue permits allowing these birds to be taken, possessed, or transported within the United States for the religious purposes of Indian tribes. The Act's protections have applied to Bald Eagles since 1940 and to Golden Eagles since 1962. The other pieces of U.S. legislation are the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

In Canada, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act(WAPPRIITA) is the sole federal legislation managing trade in these and other species. Raptors are not present in the Migratory Birds Convention and are currently managed and protected under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

5 Will U.S. officers ask to see my eagle items?

You may be asked to present your items for inspection. If you have concerns because of the sacred or ceremonial nature of the items you are transporting, discuss your concerns with the inspecting officer. Although you may still be asked to present the items, inspecting officers will avoid handling the articles and will make every effort to show respect for your religious or cultural traditions.

6 What type of information do I need to complete a form 3-177 for my eagle items?

A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or U.S. Customs officer will be available to help you complete your declaration form. You must provide the following information:

You must also sign and date the form in block 21. U.S. officers may ask you for additional information, such as the licence plate number of your vehicle or your airline flight number.

7 Must I take all of my eagle items back to Canada with me?

Yes. The items listed on the declaration you file when you enter the United States should match the items you declare when you return to Canada.

8 May I leave an eagle feather or item behind in the United States?

No. U.S. regulations currently require that all items remain in your possession.

9 May I present an eagle feather to a Native American while attending a religious or cultural ceremony?

No. Because the eagle items are your personal property, they must accompany you when you leave the United States.

10 May I transport eagle items that belong to another person?

No. You must own the eagle items that you bring into the United States.

11 May I bring live eagles into the United States?

No. You may not bring live Bald or Golden eagles or live eagle eggs into or out of the United States. You may transport lawfully possessed dead Bald and Golden eagles; eagle mounts, parts, feathers, and nests; dead eagle eggs; and items made from or containing these materials.

12 May I sell or buy eagle items in the United States?

No. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or purchase of Bald and Golden eagles, their parts and feathers, nests, eggs, and products made from them.

13 Why is the United States introducing requirements for indian people of Canada who visit with eagle items?

Under the U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act , no one may legally enter or leave the United States with items made from Bald or Golden eagles. For years, this prohibition applied even to U.S. Native Americans who wanted to travel outside the United States with personally owned eagle items for religious or cultural use.

USFWS regulations and enforcement policies, implemented a few years ago, provided a legal mechanism authorizing only enrolled members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel internationally with eagle items. Those rules, however, did not apply to Aboriginal people from Canada, many of whom routinely travel to the United States to participate in religious and cultural ceremonies involving the use of eagle items. The new policy that went into effect on February 1, 2003, makes it possible for Status Indians of Canada to legally visit the United States with personally owned eagle items for religious and cultural use.

14 How was this new policy developed?

At the request of Aboriginal people in Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and other authorities from Canada helped the USFWS to find a way to accommodate Status Indians in Canada who want to travel to the United States with eagle items.

15 How does this new policy affect U.S. Native Americans?

It does not apply to them. USFWS policies already allowed members of U.S. federally recognized tribes to travel in North America with eagle items, and those policies remain in effect. U.S. tribal members should contact the USFWS or check its Web site to obtain detailed information about travelling to Canada, Mexico, or overseas with eagle items.

16 How are eagles protected in the United States?

The United States generally prohibits the take, sale, purchase, possession, import, or export of Bald and Golden eagles and their parts, feathers, eggs, and nests. Special rules, however, accommodate traditional Native American religious and cultural practices that require the possession and transport of eagles or eagle parts and feathers.

17 Who should I contact if I have additional questions about taking eagle items from Canada into the United States?

Questions may be addressed to Patricia M. Dwyer, Chief, Aboriginal Affairs and Transboundary Wildlife, Canadian Wildlife Service, by phone at 819-953-0289 or by e-mail at

You may also call the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 703-358-1949 or e-mail the Office at Staff at Office of Law Enforcement wildlife inspection offices may also answer your questions. You can find contact information for these offices on their web site.

For more information:

For more information on WAPPRIITA and its regulations, as well as CITES, appendix listings, and specific permit and other requirements for taking CITES-listed species into and out of Canada, please contact the Canadian CITES Office.

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