TULSA — The federal government's decision to allow companies to seek authorization to kill and harm golden and bald eagles without penalty has come under fire from the Osage Nation.
The wind energy industry requested the change, and President Barack Obama's administration announced its decision last week.
The Oklahoma-based tribe favors protecting eagles because of the birds' symbolic significance to Americans and religious and ceremonial significance to Native Americans, said Osage Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle and Assistant Principal Chief Scott N. Bighorse.
“President Obama knows how important eagle feathers are to us: He was adopted into the Crow Nation and was adorned with a full war bonnet containing eagle feathers from head to toe,” said Bighorse, who is concerned that future generations to obtain the eagle feathers.
Chris Tollefson, a spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, told a local business newspaper that 15 companies have applied for the permits. The policy is not limited to renewable energy projects, and Tollefson said utilities, building companies and the military have expressed interest in applying for permits.
“The companies have applied for various lengths of permits,” Tollefson said. “Although some companies are close, we have yet to issue one.”