Inside the Only Source for Bald Eagle Parts, a Decommissioned Army Base in Colorado

The Washington Post has a story today about the U.S. Eagle Repository on the outskirts of Denver, which is the only legal supplier of bald eagle parts for American Indian religious ceremonies in the country.

The story follows the journey of a bald eagle, which was spotted by a Metro Blue Lin commuter during rush hour.  The bald eagle was then sent on a journey from Alexandria, in northern Virginia, to the U.S. Eagle Repository and into the gloved hands of Dennis Wiist, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specialist.

“There are few animals in the United States more shielded by law than bald eagles, a revered national symbol but a species that was nearly wiped out four decades ago,” the Post reports. “At least two acts of Congress make it a potential crime to possess even a single unauthorized feather. Which leaves, effectively, one source for the bald and golden eagle parts that American Indians consider a sacred link between the human and spiritual realms: this room.”

The Post follows the bald eagle from the end of its life, when it’s wing was damaged and it was stuck next to a high chain-link fence along the train tracks and was spotted by commuter Robin Johnson, 60.  After alerting the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, a rescue group, she and her husband drove along the back streets near the track until they found the eagle, its wing clearly damaged.

By the time Metro officials had organized a rescue run, the bald eagle was beyond saving.  They found it in some brambles 300 yards past the Van Dorn station. An X-ray showed that the eagle’s wing had been ripped off below the joint, most likely by a passing train, making amputation impossible.

They euthanized the majestic bird and sent it off to Denver.

“I’m glad to think of her being used like that, rather than just dying out by the tracks. It’s very spiritual,” Johnson told the Post.

For more on this story, click here.

Related stories:

Northern Arapaho Tribe Granted Permit to Kill Two Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’

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