Federal species protection laws and the religious rights of Native Americans are clashing in a U.S. District Court in Seattle this week, where a 47-year-old man is on trial for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Terry Antoine, a member of the Cowichan band of the Salish Tribe in British Columbia, is charged with smuggling eagle carcasses from Canada into the United States, where he sold or traded them to other tribes for use in religious ceremonies. Bald eagles are sacred to many Native American tribes, but because the birds are threatened and therefore protected by law, they can only be obtained through the National Eagle Repository, which collects eagles found dead in the wild. Advocates for the tribes say the system does not accommodate Native American religious needs, but U.S. courts have upheld stringent protections for the eagles so far.
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