October 27, 2008

Black market for eagle feathers

Illegal eagles; Powwow popularity fuels a bird black market[C]onservation experts say the case only scratches the surface: A black market for eagle feathers, they say, is being fueled by the surging popularity of powwows across Canada, the United States and Europe.

"There's a huge new demand for people wanting more costumes, and that's driving the demand for not just golden-eagle feathers, but now bald-eagle feathers," says David Hancock, a researcher in North Vancouver who has written several books about the winged predators.
The demand:"In Canada and the Great Lakes region, you could attend at least one powwow every weekend," says Amos Key Jr., co-chair of Canada's largest indoor powwow, expected to draw more than 1,000 participants and 40,000 spectators to Toronto as part of the Canadian Aboriginal Festival next month.

Powwows in North America mostly attract aboriginal spectators and participants. But powwows are also popular across Europe, where people celebrate North American aboriginal culture by dressing in traditional regalia. The subculture--inspired by the Old West novels of 1890s German author Karl May--has spread from Germany to other countries including Russia, Denmark, Britain and Poland.
The supply:B.C. conservation officer Lance Sundquist estimates 1,000 eagles are killed each year in British Columbia, and says that number is conservative because of the difficulty patrolling vast, remote eagle habitats in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But others say the reputations of most dancers--who view the eagle as sacred--are being tarnished by a small group of poachers eager to profit from the phenomenon.
Comment:  Don't confuse the bird black market with the black bird market. <g>

I wonder how much of the problem is caused by "hobbyists" in Europe. I can just imagine them trampling on eagle-preservation laws while trying to "honor" Indians.

For an old posting on a related subject, see Hopi Smothering of Eaglets. For an old posting on an unrelated subject, see Ill Eagle Immigrants.

1 comment:

Melvin Martin said...

A lot of these "hobbyists" want absolutely nothing to do with Indians with the exception of wanting to ape regalia at their own pow wows. And I am sure that many of them do possess eagle feathers obtained via the black market.