If you found a baby crow that had fallen from its nest, would you be breaking the law if you picked it up, secured it, and cared for it until it was old enough to fly? Yes, according to federal wildlife authorities. If you stomped and killed the baby crow, would you be breaking the law? No, not in Alabama, where crows are considered, along with blackbirds, to be nuisances. It’s open season year-round on these birds, and it is legal to kill them any way you wish, but they cannot be captured and held in captivity unless you have a permit. The only birds that nest in Alabama that can be captured and confined are common pigeons, English sparrows (aka house sparrows), and starlings, because they are not natives.

And what if you deliberately kill an eagle? You can be fined for up to $5,000 and jailed for up to one year. Unless, however, you belong to a small group of Hopi Indians who raid the nests of Golden Eagles, rear the young until their feathers have developed, then kill them by suffocation, all because of their “religious freedom.” Federal authorities have given these Indians permits to secure 40 baby eagles from their nests in 2013 and treat them in the manner described above. Furthermore, the Indians can raid nests of the eagles on some lands owned by the public. Eagles are not the only birds that the Indians are allowed to kill. Red-tailed hawks can be legally taken in any number desired. I should also mention that Navajos kill eagles too, for their feathers and without permits.

Golden Eagles have been declining in the areas the Indians hunt, especially in Arizona. Wildlife authority and conservationist Ted Williams is a critic of the practice of allowing Indians to kill eagles and states that a big problem for the birds on Hopi and Navajo reservations is overgrazing, which has diminished the numbers of jackrabbits and cottontails, the eagles’ predominant prey. The Indians killing them just adds another impediment to the birds’ survival. He states that Fish and Wildlife Service records reveal the permitted take of Golden Eagles by Hopi from 1986 to 1999 was 208, and adds that illegal kills by Indians, but not necessarily Hopi, is many times more than that.

The Hopis and Navajos apparently disregard the following admonishment.

“This we know — the Earth does not belong to man — man belongs to the Earth … All things are connected like the blood which unites one family ….”

“Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life — he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man.”

These words of wisdom have been attributed to Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Indian tribe  in a letter written to the American Government in the 1800’s. Many authorities believe that the actual text is a translation written years later by Dr. Henry A. Smith, based on his study of Chief Seattle, and the chief’s respect for nature. If the passage accurately reflects Chief Seattle’s philosophy, he was a person whose views should be taken to heart not only by other Indian tribes, but by all other Americans as well.

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Did the FBI drop the ball by failing to heed the advice of Russian authorities to keep tabs on the elder of the two Boston Marathon bombers? Indeed they did. Had it monitored the miscreant’s electronic communications, cell phone records, comings and goings, etc. following his six month visit to the Muslim-dominated Russian province, it would have realized he was up to no-good  and could have thwarted the plan to bomb the festive occasion. He may have learned how to construct and detonate the explosive devices while in Russia, or followed the instructions on “How to make a bomb in your mother’s kitchen,” contained in the on-line magazine Inspired, published by Al Qaeda Jihadists in Yemen. Let’s hope and pray that the FBI won’t be caught with its britches down again.

On the subject of the availability on the Internet of instructions on how to engage in criminal activities, Janie found an Internet site describing the step-by-step procedure on how to manufacture methamphetamine. Heavens to Betsy. It’s time to consider amending the First Amendment!

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.