LIMERICK — A couple charged with illegally possessing bird parts say the parts are used in religious ceremonies and that the woman is being persecuted for her beliefs.
Deannie and Steve Worcester were charged with possessing a variety of feathers and talons from different hawks, an owl, an oriole and a woodpecker, among other birds.
The couple also are charged with possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
“I can only surmise that I am being prosecuted for my religious beliefs and practices,” Deannie Worcester said in a prepared statement.
Worcester, who is part American Indian, says she uses bird feathers in what are known as “smudge ceremonies,” which are supposed to disperse negative energies and create a positive aura. In smudge ceremonies, sage, cedar and sweet grass are burned and the smoke is fanned through the air with feathers.
She said the feathers in her home were either road kill or found on the ground.
Worcester accused the state of fabricating the drug charges.
The couple will likely be charged with violating a 1918 law that bars people from possessing any bird, their eggs, nests, feathers or other body parts, according to state game warden Tim Spahr.
Worcester alleges the charges are part of a campaign by state game wardens to get revenge on her for ordering them off her property last summer.