KETCHIKAN - Wildlife officials this week returned dozens of eagle feathers, an eagle skull and a set of eagle wings that were confiscated last month from an Alaska Native woman.
Troopers took the items from the home of Mary Mann in June after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska received reports that a non-Native man, her husband, Dennis, possessed the eagle parts.
American Indians can possess eagle feathers solely for religious purposes, however, non-Natives cannot, said Steve Oberholtzer, assistant special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Juneau office.
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Mary Mann said she used the feathers for Native regalia, including a fan and a rattle.
But officials, who returned the parts on Monday, said Mann still needed a permit to possess the feathers, which she received from her brother.
Oberholtzer said Fish and Wildlife Service will not pursue legal action for possession without a permit because there was no evidence the Mann's were trading in the parts commercially.
It is illegal for both Natives and non-Natives to sell eagle parts, Oberholtzer said. Penalties for illegally possessing or selling eagle parts can range from a $500 fine to a maximum of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine per person, Oberholtzer said.
The Ketchikan Indian Community planned to discuss trying to change the permit law for Natives at its August meeting.
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