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FWS Changes Permits for Eagles


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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in flight (Credit: George Gentry / FWS)

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published in the Federal Register  on December 9, 2013 a new final rule amending the 2009 Eagle Permitting Rule. This rule extends the maximum term for programmatic take permits from 5 years to 30 years for the take of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), with the goal of  streamlining of renewable energy permits. Despite the lengthening of the maximum term of the permit, the FWS stated that they “maintain discretion to issue permits of shorter duration as appropriate.” These longer-term permits are still subject to review every five years, as well as application fees.

 

This rule also amends other permit standards. It will require permits to use adaptive management techniques, including possible additional protection measures in their permit, should monitoring data find they are necessary.  FWS stated that it will be working with industry to implement Advanced Conservation Practices (ACPs) at operating wind facilities on an “experimental” basis, as they have not currently identified ACPs to reduce eagle disturbance and mortality.

 

Although the new rule is supported by the administration and industry, some environmental and conservation groups oppose it, arguing that 30 years is too long for a permit term and that the policy goes too far towards accommodating industry and not far enough towards protecting wildlife.

 

This rule is “effective until amended or replaced” and goes into effect on January 8, 2013. However, FWS is continuing to solicit additional input on updating the entire 2009 Eagle take permit regulations at workshops in early 2014, (yet to be announced). The input from these workshops will be used to develop another proposed rule and NEPA evaluation by the end of 2014.

 

Sources: Federal Register (December 9, 2013) FWS Press Release (December 9, 2013), Audubon Press Release (December 5, 2013), Greenwire (December 6, 2013)

 

This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.

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