Tribes disagree about right to kill eagles on Reservation

May 22, 2012

A federal judge will allow Eastern Shoshone Tribe to challenge the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s plan to sue for the right to kill bald eagles on the reservation they share.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to the Northern Arapaho Tribe allowing them to kill two bald eagles annually for religious purposes, as long as they do so outside the reservation they share with the Shoshone. Because Wyoming state law prohibits the killing of eagles on state land, the Northern Arapaho are suing Fish and Wildlife for the right to kill the eagles on the reservation.

But Kim Varilek, Attorney General for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, says the tribes long ago established a joint law protecting eagles on the reservation.

“And, for whatever reason, the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s position is that they have enacted their own legal code and that it should somehow supersede that joint code,” Varilek said. “And we disagree.”

Varilek says the Arapaho should pursue an amendment through the tribal legislative process instead of going over the Shoshone’s heads in federal courts.

She adds that it’s unclear whether the eagle population on Wind River could support the taking of two eagles annually.