CHEYENNE (AP) — A lawsuit between the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the tribe’s fight for a permit allowing it to kill bald eagles for religious purposes is on hold for 60 days while both sides consider implications of a new Wyoming law.
U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson on Monday signed an order staying proceedings in the tribe’s ongoing lawsuit against the federal wildlife management agency.
Wyoming last month changed its law to allow falconers with proper permits to capture eagles. State officials have said the change was necessary because the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish recently had taken over administration of falconry programs.
The new law also may provide an avenue for settling a lawsuit that has pitted the Northern Arapaho Tribe not only against the federal government but also against the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. Both tribes share the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming.
The Fish and Wildlife Service last year issued the Northern Arapaho Tribe the nation’s first permit allowing them to kill bald eagles for religious purposes.
However, the federal permit specified that the Northern Arapaho couldn’t kill eagles on the Wind River Indian Reservation because the Eastern Shoshone Tribe opposed it.
Until last month, state law prohibited killing eagles off the reservation — leaving the Arapaho with no place in the state where there permit would be valid.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Fish and Wildlife Service filed notice with Johnson on Friday asking for a 60-day break in the litigation to allow them to consider the implications of the new state law. Johnson granted the request Monday.
The request states that the Fish and Wildlife Service recently granted the Northern Arapaho Tribe a new permit that runs from March 1 through next February.