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PETA in flap over BC’s eagle mascot

Decries return of live bird to sidelines, but officials say raptor is handled with care

Professional handlers control BC’s bald eagle mascot during appearances at Alumni Stadium.

Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe

Professional handlers control BC’s bald eagle mascot during appearances at Alumni Stadium.

A live bald eagle has landed as the Boston College football mascot, but an animal rights group is squawking that the bird’s star turn at Alumni Stadium is cruel and unusual.

“Boston College just flunked Ethics 101 by teaching students that it’s fine to exploit, disrespect, and terrify animals,” said Delcianna Winders, an official with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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PETA asked the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Monday to investigate whether BC is abiding by the law, which requires permits and an educational use for the display of bald eagles. The last eagle to survey the BC sideline died 47 years ago from a virus, and the tradition was revived this year.

On the surface, a US wildlife agent said, BC appears to have a legal eagle.

Federal and state permits have been obtained, the bird is used before games to promote wildlife awareness, and professional handlers control the bird at all times, said John Linehan, president of Zoo New England, which cares for the eagle at the Franklin Park Zoo.

The eagle has yet to be named, but a student-led contest will decide its moniker, to be revealed during the Oct. 5 game against Army, said BC spokesman Jack Dunn.

Like a freshman trying to make the team, the eagle has not seen much action in two home contests. The 9-year-old male was not brought into the stadium during the opener, and it left after the national anthem in the second game. “We’re making sure it doesn’t get too excited,” Linehan said. “If it does, we give it quiet time.”

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