Unraveling the Truth: Can You Really Have a Pet Eagle?

Ever gazed at an eagle soaring high above and thought, “What a magnificent pet that would make?” Well, you’re not alone. Many have been captivated by the eagle’s raw power, grace, and majesty. But can you really own one?

Handling the industry of exotic pets isn’t easy, especially when it comes to these majestic birds of prey. There’s a lot to consider, from legalities to ethical concerns, and not forgetting the practical aspects of eagle care.

So, if you’ve ever been tempted to swap your cat or dog for something a little more…feathered and fierce, then this article is a must-read. We’ll investigate into the intricacies of owning an eagle and help you decide if it’s a flight of fancy worth pursuing.

Legal Considerations for Owning an Eagle

Possessing an eagle requires careful navigation through rigorous laws in the United States. Major federal protections like the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) dictate the regulations for eagle ownership. In short, these laws prohibit the possession, sale, trade, transport, or import of bald or golden eagles, including their nests, eggs or parts, without an explicit permit from the Secretary of the Interior.

Federal Regulations and Protections

When it comes to keeping eagles, stringent rules apply universally across the country. You’d need a exact permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for activities like scientific research, educational purposes, religious practices for Native Americans, and control of predatory actions. These permits aren’t handed out lightly; they signify a serious commitment to the well-being of this majestic species.

The BGEPA strictly proscribes activities that could disrupt or harm eagles. That’s a list that encompasses pursuing, shooting, poisoning, wounding, killing, capturing, trapping, collecting, or even harassing them.

State-Exact Laws

Apart from federal legislation, there are also state-exact laws that add another layer of legal considerations. These regulations vary depending on your location, so it’s critical to study your local laws before deciding to take on the responsibility of an eagle. Always remember, the legal aspects are just one part of the picture, as the care and conservation of these majestic creatures must be at the heart of any decision to own one.

Why Eagles Do Not Make Ideal Pets

Eagles captivate many with their majesty, yet they defy domestication. The reasons cover strong conservation considerations, rigid legal protections, and the complexities of meeting these wild birds’ inherent behavioral and environmental needs.

Wildlife Conservation Concerns

Eagles sit atop the totems of wildlife conservation. Laws like the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act diligently guard these raw avatars of freedom in the United States. These strict federal provisions outlaw possession, sale, or transport of eagles without explicit permits. Also, state-exact stipulations also come into play, highlighting the challenging labyrinth of legality that eagle ownership entails.

Behavioral and Environmental Needs

Eagles are free spirits of the wild, their lifestyle demanding space and exact habitats. Here’s a look at why domestification falls short:

  1. Space Requirements: An eagle in flight is a spectacle to behold, their vast wings spanning the sky. These birds demand a massive expanse for flight and exercise, far exceeding what a domestic setting can proffer.
  2. Dietary Factors: Fresh meat composes the bulk of an eagle’s diet. In a home environment, mirroring the freshness and variety intrinsic to their natural hunting quests remains a lofty challenge.

Ponder over these factors, reinforcing the fact that choosing an eagle as a pet presents not only ethical dilemmas but also infringes on their inherent right to liberty.

The Role of Eagles in Nature

Broadening your view further, eagles aren’t merely fascinating creatures with majestic flight abilities. Beyond aesthetics, they have crucial roles in the environment and symbolize deep meanings in various cultures.

Ecological Impact of Eagles

Eagles, particularly those of predatory nature, play an indispensable role in managing ecological balance. Their diet primarily includes rodents and smaller birds. So, they aid in controlling the population of these species, preventing potential overgrowth and imbalance. Also, eagle predation helps prevent the spread of diseases that their prey could otherwise multiply uncontrollably.

Their nests, usually built high above trees or cliffs, provide shelter and nesting spaces for other species once left by eagles. So, they indirectly contribute to biodiversity.

Finally, eagles aid in carrion clearance. Deceased animals can harbor harmful bacteria and diseases, posing risks to other wildlife and ecosystems. By scavenging these dead bodies for food, eagles help limit the spread of illness.

Eagles as Symbols of Freedom

Culturally, eagles, due to their high flight, command of the sky, and fierce demeanor, symbolize freedom and strength in various cultures. In the United States, for instance, the Bald Eagle is a national symbol, representing liberty and might. The bird’s image graces official seals, currency, and national icons.

It’s essential to understand these cultural and ecological signifiers associated with eagles. It attributes to why they are respected in nature and why attempts at domesticating them can infringe upon their liberty—both literally and symbolically. By appreciating eagles in their natural habitats, we can ensure their survival and the preservation of the important roles they play in ecology and culture.

Ethical Issues in Keeping Eagles as Pets

Grasping the ethical complexities of keeping eagles as pets demands an understanding of their innate wild nature. Eagles, inherently wild creatures, deserve freedom in natural habitats; not confinement within domestic environments. Their needs, incredibly complex, extend beyond our mitigation capabilities in captivity.

Another critical concern centers on the legal protections afforded to eagles. Many legislations worldwide, akin to the US Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, shield eagles’ rights, making unlicensed ownership unlawful.

Consider the aspect of space and diet. Being apex predators, eagles need wide spaces for hunting and flight—conditions virtually unattainable in residential settings. Maintaining a correct diet also poses substantial challenges. Eagles thrive on whole and fresh prey, a feeding requirement difficult to mimic in domestic situations.

Also, an eagle’s lifespan stands as a important deterring factor. Specifically, an eagle can sustain for several decades, necessitating a lengthy commitment that individuals often underestimate.

Finally, eagles require expert care. This necessity isn’t arbitrary but born out of their biological makeup demanding specialized attention. For the average person, providing such elevated standards of care could prove daunting, further emphasizing the quandary of pet eagles.

In sum, while the concept of eagle ownership might seem intriguing, the associated problems underline the unsustainability of the practice. Right from ethical, legislative, lifestyle, commitment, to professional care aspects—keeping eagles as pets presents an issue-laden industry.

Alternatives to Keeping Eagles

In the wake of understanding the monumental challenges and legal restrictions associated with maintaining eagles as pets, it’s prudent to explore alternative routes. Let’s investigate into some viable ways for you to enjoy, support and learn more about these majestic birds without impacting their freedom or well-being.

Falconry as a Regulated Practice

Moving along from the pet perspective, another window into the industry of birds of prey, including eagles, is through falconry. A time-honored practice that dates back centuries, falconry involves the art of hunting in the wild with a trained bird of prey. This practice is highly regulated and requires a deep understanding of bird biology, meticulous training techniques, and an unwavering dedication to the care and well-being of the birds involved. Importantly, falconry also demands a permit and adherence to national and international regulations to ensure ethical practices and the welfare of the birds.

Wildlife Sanctuaries and Rehabilitation Centers

Rather than attempting to domesticate a wild eagle, a more ethical and even thrilling alternative can be found within the bounds of wildlife sanctuaries and bird rehabilitation centers. Many of these establishments are fostering injured eagles, nursing them back to health, and creating a safe environment for their eventual return to the wild. By visiting these areas, you can observe eagles up close, appreciate their incredible attributes, and even contribute to their care through donations or volunteering. Besides, you can turn this passion into an opportunity for self-enlightenment by becoming a avid reader of eagle-themed literature or becoming a regular follower of reputable online platforms dedicated to these birds and their habitats.


You’ve journeyed through the complexities of owning an eagle as a pet. It’s clear that this noble bird’s best interests lie in the wild, not in our homes. The challenges are manifold – from their wild nature and legal protections to their demanding needs and long lifespan. It’s simply unsustainable.

But don’t feel disheartened. There are ethical alternatives to enjoy and learn about these magnificent creatures. Falconry, a regulated practice, allows you to interact with birds of prey. You can also support wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers.

By choosing these options, you’re not just respecting the eagle’s freedom and well-being. You’re also contributing to their care and conservation – a choice that truly reflects the eagle’s symbolic significance of strength and freedom. So, can you have a pet eagle? The answer is no, but you can have a meaningful relationship with them in a way that truly honors their majestic nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you own an eagle in the US?

In the US, only enrolled members of Federally recognized tribes who are 18 years of age or older may apply to receive and possess eagles, parts, and feathers from the Repository for religious purposes.

Is it OK to have an eagle as a pet?

Owning eagles as pets has been made illegal by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act passed by Congress in 1940. This law protects our national symbol, the Bald Eagle, including its feathers, nests, eggs, or body parts.

Can a Bald Eagle carry a child?

There’s a pervasive myth that Bald Eagles can snatch infants and toddlers. However, this is not true. Eagles do not have the capacity to carry human babies.

Can I have a falcon as a pet?

Falcons are not pets. They are wild predators and inherently dangerous. Captive-bred Falcons might be kept under strict conditions, but “wild raptors” cannot be sold, though they may be gifted to other falconers.

Can eagles be pets?

It is unequivocally illegal to keep eagles as pets. Only trained and certified master falconers can tame and keep eagles. It’s important to emphasize that wild, exotic, protected, endangered, or otherwise threatened animals should not be kept as pets.

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Dennis K. Carruth

Dennis K. Carruth - Passionate avian enthusiast and owner of Avian Enthusiast. Explore the world of birdwatching with expert guidance and curated resources.

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