BC’s Use of Live Eagle Mascot Flies in the Face of Federal Law, Says PETA

Group Says Wild Animals Belong in the Wild—Not on the Gridiron

For Immediate Release:
September 23, 2013

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382 

Boston — This morning, PETA sent a letter to Acting Special Agent in Charge Neil Mendelsohn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking the agency to investigate Boston College’s (BC) use of a live bald eagle as the school football team’s mascot after the last eagle used by the college died nearly 50 years ago. In its letter, PETA points out that the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibit possession, transportation, and harassment of these wild, reclusive animals, who can become easily frightened or even injured during boisterous and almost unbearably loud football games. In fact, PETA cites several incidents in which birds used as mascots were injured at sporting events. PETA contacted BC Director of Athletics Brad Bates apprising him of these laws and received no response.

“Carting an eagle back and forth and subjecting the animal to a boisterous and deafening football crowd for hours at a time has nothing to do with school spirit and everything to do with disregarding the basic protections that these birds are afforded under federal law,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Boston College just flunked Ethics 101 by teaching students that it’s fine to exploit, disrespect, and terrify animals—while flouting the law.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Neil Mendelsohn follows.

September 23, 2013

Neil Mendelsohn
Acting Special Agent in Charge
Office of Law Enforcement, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Via e-mail: [email protected]

Request for Investigation of the Use of a Live-Eagle Mascot at Boston College

Dear Mr. Mendelsohn:

I’m writing on behalf of my client, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to request an investigation of Boston College’s use of a bald eagle as a mascot at football games. Parading around an eagle at games violates the letter and spirit of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

The Eagle Act and the MBTA prohibit possessing, transporting, and disturbing eagles. Parading a bald eagle around a football stadium filled with a screaming crowd, a marching band, and amplified sound would clearly disturb these sensitive birds. Indeed, just last month, a bald eagle used to “entertain” a crowd at Oral Roberts University slammed into a wall and fell to the floor. In 2011, an eagle at Auburn University crashed into a window during a pre-game flight around the stadium.

Moreover, Boston College Athletics cannot qualify for a permit to exhibit eagles. Instead, the program has teamed up with Zoo New England, which may possess a permit under the Eagle Act. This act, however, prohibits Boston College from free-riding under Zoo New England’s permit. Eagle permits are not assignable or transferrable, and only those who are “under the direct control of the permittee, or who [are] employed by or under contract to the permittee for purposes authorized by the permit, may carry out the activity authorized by the permit.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own interpretation of the regulation requires that anyone even assisting in permitted activities—such as a college displaying an animal at its games—independently possess a permit or be specifically named as a sub-permittee.

At best, Boston College Athletics is assisting Zoo New England in the exhibition of eagles, yet it is in no way under the direct control of or employed by the zoo. Any contract allowing the college to molest the eagle for the purpose of promoting a sports team would therefore amount to an illegal “assignment or transfer” of the permit. Additionally, as detailed further in the appendix, any permit allowing the exhibition of an eagle at games is entirely inconsistent with the Eagle Act and the MBTA.

Please investigate Boston College’s and Zoo New England’s use of a bald eagle at football games and take all appropriate enforcement action.

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement

cc:        Sherry Morgan, Assistant Regional Director, Migratory Birds and State Programs, Migratory Bird Permit Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ([email protected])

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind