I think the feathers are beautiful, but they were protected not becasue of flyfisherman and thier desire for hackles. I believe (from what I read) they were used widely to decorate hats and nearly wiped out by commercial hunters. From a functionality standpoint (a fishing fly) heron's not that special. I've examined them in the field (both the barbless hackes and some of the smaller webby variety). I'd surely buy some if it was legally available. But it's not. FWIW, if you want to use them (and retain them in your personal collection) I honestly doubt you have anything to fear. I also think Herons are kick ass birds. There is a rookery near where I fish on the Walla Walla and I see them all the in the Summer and Fall. There is a local (Great Blue) on the Umatilla R. who called me names all Oct and Nov when I was fishing there. I often turn a corner and find one staring right at me. Then barking at me. Then pooping and flying away I see them eating mice in the fields in winter. They look like dinosaurs (or so I imagine). So I don't mean to talk trash about them as an animal at all.