PETA Continues to Peck At Boston College Over Use of Live Bald Eagle Mascot

The school claims they are doing nothing wrong, but PETA keeps flapping their wings.

When it comes to Boston College using a real bald eagle as their mascot during home games, officials from PETA won’t let the ball drop.

On Monday, the animal protection organization sent a letter to Neil Mendelsohn, acting Special Agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking the agency to investigate Boston College’s use of a live bald eagle as the school football team’s official representative.

On August 28, BC announced that, for the first time in 50 years, they would use the bird as a mascot, and that it would make regular appearances at all home football games during the 2013 season. The Newton-based Catholic school renewed its partnership with Zoo New England and the World Bird Sanctuary to bring back the tradition.

But PETA claims the use of the eagle goes against federal law, specifically the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. PETA representatives said using a live animal as a mascot can cause them to become easily frightened, or even injured, during “boisterous and almost unbearably loud” football games. “[It] has nothing to do with school spirit and everything to do with disregarding the basic protections that these birds are afforded under federal law,” said 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.”

While PETA pushes for a federal investigation, officials from the school claim they are not in violation of the law, due to their partnership with the zoo, and the use of “experienced handlers” who care for the eagle. “During the two games this season, experienced handlers from Zoo New England and the World Bird Sanctuary have made presentations to our fans regarding the importance of wildlife conservation and protecting endangered species,” said BC Spokesman Jack Dunn, in a statement sent via email. “Contrary to assertions from PETA, no part of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, or Migratory Bird Act, was ever violated. The World Bird Sanctuary has both federal and state permits to have the eagle in its possession and to conduct the educational display. The safety and wellbeing of the eagle remains the priority of all groups involved.”

In a letter to federal officials, urging them to investigate the matter, however, Winders said the Boston College Athletics program doesn’t qualify for a permit to exhibit eagles, and they are not covered because a permit possessed by Zoo New England, or the World Bird Sanctuary, is non-transferable.

Winders wrote:

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. 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.

The college has only used the bird at two home games so far, after doing away with the traditional costumed mascot that served as an accessory to the cheerleading squad. BC maintains that there is an educational aspect to the use of the animal.

There was no immediate indication as to whether federal officials would launch an investigation into the school’s use of the mascot at the behest of the animal rights organization, and whether PETA’s claims are consistent with the laws set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Lisa Clark-kahn

    Its plain and simple it really is ,it sucks to be a wild animal used as a prop.I think any educated compassionate thinker can understand that.Peta supporter or not.I hope so.Peta im on your side with this one.

    • ray

      Compassionate thinker? Excuse while I go vomit.Grow up and quit posting PETA fueled stupidity.

  • Clifford Welden

    Zoos are terrible places that keep the animals caged in 24/7 365. Thank goodness that we have PETA to look out for these poor creatures. Why if we all listened to the PETA folks I am sure that we would have many extinct species that we could read about in books.
    Please. BC and the folks from the zoo make their staffs available for educational displays before every game. Children and adults alike have expressed deep interest in this species. I would venture to guess that some will even visit the zoo for a day. All to the benefit of the zoo and wildlife

  • Lynda

    The emotional life of this magnificent creature is being so terribly compromised and dismissed. That for me is what matters not “the law”. People seem to just focus on the physical aspects of the care of animals that live in captivity. They have feelings fears, emotions and confusions of their own. Just go in any bird rescue or dog/ cat shelter and look in the eyes of those poor animals. I know because I volunteer in one of those shelters. Humans want to look at what they see and not below the surface. If you want to see eagles go to Alaska or Washington and see them in the wild. Then it may make sense how they feel having to live in captivity and to be exploited in this way.
    Now of course for injured birds that live in captivity, because they otherwise wouldn’t survive, are fortunate enough to get the help they need and be used as teaching tools for our young people. There are wonderful facilities who do their best but that is where this bird needs to remain.
    What kind of message does it send to the young that it is ok to use this bird and animals like him at a football game with no regard for their inner life and need for peace and sanity.
    Please, people that attend the BC games. Stand up for this amazing creature. Let the people stand for him and don’t just sit around and leave it to the powers that be. And, I love a good football game and lived by the reservoir by BC for 23 years. Now BC has a strong voice so PETA’S voice and the people’s voice must be stronger.
    It’s all for the love of animals. We are all ONE. We need to truly “see” each other.

  • Bob Vanasse

    The birds is well treated, it is not in the stadium during the game, and it is the centerpiece of an educational display outside the stadium teaching about the magnificence of these animals and nature. Last I checked, zoos and Universities were about education. Ms. Delcianna Winders of PETA admitted to me today in a phone conversation that she has not visited Alumni Stadium, so while she may averse to “‘unbearably loud’ football games,” she clearly had no direct knowlege of the situation, and is unaware that the bird is not paraded around during the game. The fact that she had no empirical evidence of her accusations did not stop her from telling the Boston Globe that BC is”teaching students that it’s fine to exploit, disrespect, and terrify animals.” If there is any exploitation going on here, it is PETA’s consistent headline-grabbing at any anyone’s expense to gain exposure. Go Eagles, both human and avian.

    • Lynda

      I lived across the reservoir from the BC football field for 23 years. Because of the activity in the parking area and all of the tailgating plus music, loud voices, etc. this is hardly the right environment in my opinion for this bird. Their natural habituates could not be more opposite. Come on. Have some compassion, go back to the human dressed as an eagle and yes, then I will say go eagles.

    • Markey

      I don’t know, Bob. It seems to me that a huge crowd at the opening ceremonies simply cannot be very peaceful. I would say one should err on the side of caution, don’t you? Why possibly expose this bird to stress and fear? How do we know he is not being put through a bad experience? I say no eagle, no live animal needs to be there. (Alum of the Graduate School of Social Work at BC, brother has a B.A. from B.C.)

  • Lisa Clark-kahn

    Besides the one weird educational comment thats used to pretend to be decent when expoiting animals its the number one tool used by circuses and roadside zoos plus horrible places like seaworld to use as an excuse to exploit wild animals and somehow still try to be a decent person while doing it or supporting it .Please everyone go see the movie BLACKFISH it will really clear this annoying educational crap while taking away everything from wild animals.Yuckkkk,sorry for the ongoing sentences i just cant stand wildanimals in cages i think its so sick and selfish i want to thank all the educated moral evolved comments on this sight.We are starting to get it for what it is ugly cruelty for shock value and gawkers yayyy thank you guys.

    • Markey

      This is how I feel.

    • ray

      Check it out radical animal rights retard.Fucking weirdo.Go off yourself freak.

  • LH

    I went to the circus once when I was little, saw the animals in their cages afterward – and never went again….

    Then when I was a BC freshman, and went to my first football game (my favorite sport), I saw the tethered live eagle (yes, I’m that old), who kept flapping his wings, trying to fly – it looked painful to me, and bothered me so, I never went to another game….
    I felt better about being a BC alum when I learned the live eagle was replaced by a costumed mascot – why is that no longer acceptable? Now I feel ashamed….
    I believe animals (like people) deserve to be free – free of cages and hunters alike. I have no problems with injured animals that are helped and then have to remain “in captivity” when they can’t return to the wilds afterward.
    If people want to learn about animals, there are plenty of books, videos and shows (and then there’s the Web)… if they want to see them “up close and personal”, they can save their money, and take a cruise (say, through Alaska or the Galapagos Islands), or go on a safari, and see them in their native habitat.
    I donate money to various charities that work for the welfare of animals (and the environment), though I don’t consider myself a card-carrying member of any, except for I.F.A.W. (and maybe Greenpeace). I’m just on the side of those creatures who can’t speak for and defend themselves – and any who advocate for them.
    As a BC alum and a human being, I hope the live eagle is removed once more, and released….

    • Markey

      You have a lot of compassion. I feel the same. I wrote to Cornell Lab of Ornithology
      159 Sapsucker Woods Rd
      Ithaca, NY 14850 and received an answer from them. It is complex. I was deeply opposed to having a captive eagle at even the opening ceremonies, too. The answer I got was that maybe the bird is a bird kept in the zoo due to an injury that prevents him from flying and that he is used to people, but I am still not sure how he would feel if he were in such a large stadium filled with people! You can write to them and see what they tell you, also. I have to say that I am not an expert and maybe my instincts are not correct. He suggested I contact a zoologist at the zoo for their opinion. Hmm.

    • ray

      Oh give it a break nutjob.

  • ray

    PETA is going to push it too far one of these days and these days their is going to be hell to pay.Nothing worse then an urban rotten stinking animal rights retard.These pansy ass freaks couldn’t fight their way out of a wet papersack.Love to see these dirtbags be on the receiving end of a baseball bat.

  • ray

    Save a human.Pound a PETArd.

  • Lisa Clark-kahn

    Huh this isent about peta this is about logic and compassion.Whats so confusing and makes you guys so angry about that.I would be against you being expoited why is it so hard for you guys to swallow speaking up for animals and having empathy for them.