(Dennis Wiist, Wildlife Repository Specialist walks through a freezer containing eagles ready for shipment at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Eagle Repository in Commerce City, Colorado March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

A wildlife specialist splays the wings of a dead golden eagle shipped in from New Mexico and is pleased by what he sees.

“This one is an awfully good bird,” Dennis Wiist of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says. “There’s not too much damage, which is extremely rare.”

Wiist will bag the eagle, freeze it and then have it delivered to a waiting Native American Indian tribe.

Eagles are sacrosanct for many tribes, and Wiist and his colleagues at the National Eagle Repository provide them with feathers, wings and talons – and in some cases whole carcasses – for religious rituals. But the Indians’ demand outstrips the repository’s supply.