At an event in the Adirondacks last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recounted a treasured memory of the time his family retrieved an eagle feather from Saranac Lake and kept it after one of the beautiful birds flew near his canoe, but what he didn’t realize is that he confessed to a federal crime, the Western Journal reported.
“A federal law prohibits non-Native Americans from possessing bald eagle parts, including feathers. The law has been on the books for nearly 80 years, but most Americans, Cuomo included, probably don’t know about it.
“Cuomo, a lawyer and former federal official, revealed his legal faux pas Tuesday while announcing an economic development grant for the village of Saranac Lake.
“After The Associated Press in Albany inquired about the issue, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the family was unaware of the federal law when they took the feather from the water.”
“We have two options, put it back in the river or donate it to a US Fish and Wildlife repository,” Azzopardi wrote in an email. “We’ll do one or the other.”
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits anyone without a federal permit from disturbing, taking or possessing eagle parts, eggs or nests. Violating the act can result in a fine of up to $100,000, imprisonment for one year, or both, for a first offense, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.
Under the law, only permitted members of federally recognized American Indian tribes can possess eagle feathers, which are used in tribal ceremonies and rituals.
“Giving up the feather would undoubtedly be a disappointment for Cuomo, who had joy on his face as he told an audience at the Hotel Saranac on Tuesday how much he has enjoyed visiting the region over the years.”
“And one of the highlight moments was on Saranac Lake when we were in a canoe, and we were taking a canoe trip, and out of nowhere, from one of the islands, an eagle came out and, like, swooped down right next to us with this beautiful, graceful glide,” stated Cuomo.
“And when the eagle was just about at the front of the canoe, one feather fell out,” he said. “And we picked up that feather, and I have it on my fireplace to this day.”