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South Phoenix Wildlife Refuge Home To Feather Conservatory For Native Americans

A south Phoenix wildlife center is home to a program to help Native Americans from across the country safely obtain bird feathers and carcasses for religious and ceremonial reasons.

Liberty Wildlife’s Non-Eagle Feather Repository Program takes remains of certain birds and distributes them to Native Americans.

Program coordinator Robert Mesta says it’s just one of two programs in the U.S. in a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We feel that it’s really important that it’s not construed that these Native Americans are buying feathers," Mesta said. "These feathers are protected by law and it’s illegal to buy or sell them.”

Mesta says since the program was established in 2010, the center has distributed feathers to more than 3,500 Native Americans across 173 different tribes in 47 states. Mesta said Native Americans construct dance skirts, capes, ceremonial fans, and other pieces critical to their religion.


After spending seven months as a news intern for KJZZ, Matt Kling returned in January 2019 as a general assignment reporter, mainly on the weekends.Kling’s radio career started when he joined Blaze Radio as freshman at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School. At Blaze Radio he has served as a host, producer and assistant production director. He’s also interned for KTAR before joining KJZZ in 2018.Kling also has extensive work in television production, working as a director, technical director and other positions for Cronkite News and Arizona PBS. Today, Kling serves as a newscast producer for Cronkite News. He anticipates graduation from the Cronkite School in May 2019.When he’s not working, you can find Kling out and about on the town, or in his downtown Phoenix apartment watching his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.