Religious Claim in Bald Eagle Killing Doesn't Fly

Native American killed protected bird for Sun Dance ceremony, now in plea bargain
By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 3:51 AM CDT
An American bald eagle flies over its nest at the Martin State Airport in Middle River, Md.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)
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(Newser) – When Winslow Friday shot a bald eagle out of a tree in a Wyoming Indian reservation four years ago, he was hoping to provide his cousin with a headdress for an upcoming Sun Dance. What he got were federal charges for killing the protected bird. It's a law his northern Arapaho tribe has argued in court violates American Indians' religious rights, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A federal judge sided with Friday, but an appeals court overturned the ruling, saying Friday could have applied for a permit or for a dead bird kept in a repository for such ceremonies. The Supreme Court has refused to hear Friday's case, so he's now preparing for a plea deal with prosecutors that will avoid a trial.
(Read more bald eagle stories.)