Federal Register

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We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received a petition for rulemaking, which asks the Service to revise the existing rules pertaining to the religious use of federally protected bird feathers. The petition is being published pursuant to the terms of a settlement agreement entered into in 2016 by the United States with McAllen Grace Brethren Church and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Any changes to existing rules will be subject to a public comment period, and tribal consultation consistent with Executive Order 13175 and the Department of the Interior Policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes. The Service seeks comments on the petition.

On July 26, 2018, the Service received a petition for rulemaking from Pastor Robert Soto, the lead plaintiff in McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Jewell, No. 7:07-cv-060 (S.D. Tex. June 3, 2016) (hereinafter “McAllen”), and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking the Service to revise its existing rules pertaining to the religious use of federally protected bird feathers and parts for Native Americans. The petitioners submitted the petition pursuant to paragraph 7 of the June 10, 2016, settlement agreement between the McAllen Plaintiffs and the United States, which states:

[The Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior (“Secretary”)] agrees to consider a petition under 43 CFR 14.2 from Plaintiffs to modify existing regulations or issue new regulations concerning the possession of eagle feathers by persons who are not members of federally recognized tribes. In considering the Petition, [the Secretary] agrees to issue a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the petition. [The Secretary] agrees to make a decision on the petition within two years from the date it is received.